Online retail firm Alibaba will be offering audiences in China a sports network focused solely on college sports marking the first such deal in the world’s most populous country. This follows the inking of a partnership between the Chinese e-commerce giant and major athletic programs in the United States which will allow for the streaming of various college sporting events by the e-commerce leader in the country.
“[This is because there] is growing interest in our universities overseas, and particularly in China. Sports play a valuable role in bringing exposure and interest,” said the commissioner of Pac-12, Larry Scott.
Alibaba now has the broadcast rights for Pac-12 Conference games up to the year 2024. The conference consists of sports programs from Oregon, Arizona State, Arizona, USC, UCLA, Berkley, UC and Stanford. Under the deal the partnership will seek to promote the interests of universities in the United States in their bid to market themselves to prospective applicants from China. Currently there are approximately 27,000 Chinese nationals who are enrolled at these Pac-12 schools. There are also 12,000 alumni from these Pac-12 schools who are at present residing in China.
According to a press release 175 live events will be distributed in China in the course of one year. This will include collegiate sports matchups, lacrosse, gymnastics, women’s volleyball, men’s basketball, beach volleyball and football. Additionally there will also be 100 hours dedicated to original programming. Some of the live events and original programming content will be broadcast on China’s YouTube, Youku Tudou.
Pac-12 China Basketball Game
The deal’s financial terms were not disclosed but will include extending sponsorship by Alibaba of the yearly Pac-12 China Basketball Game to 2020. Next month on November 11 the Pac-12 China Basketball Game will be held in Shanghai, China where rivals Georgia Tech and UCLA will be featured. Last year the Pac-12 China Basketball Game saw Stanford University compete against Harvard and the latter emerged the winner.
The deal comes at a time when tech companies are increasing their investments in sports streaming in a bid to lure more customers who are turning to the internet for sports content since it is cheaper than traditional cable television. For instance the Seattle, Washington-based Amazon recently inked a deal with National Football League where the e-commerce giant acquired broadcast rights to 11 Thursday Night Football matches. The feed will be made available to viewers in close to 200 countries around the world.