Alibaba Shoots and Scores with New NBA Agreement | EMQQ
Early in March 2019,
the NBA and Alibaba (BABA) entered into an agreement which provides for the
distribution of NBA content across Alibaba’s media outlets as well as the sales
of NBA products across Alibaba’s ecommerce sites.
NBA content on Alibaba's platform
According to the NBA’s press release, an “NBA
Section” will be launched across Alibaba’s platforms.
The new section will allow fans to view NBA content as well as shop for NBA
merchandise all on one platform.
NBA game highlights,
original programming, and classic NBA games will be offered to Alibaba
users. The original programming will cover a wide range of popular
basketball and cultural topics, including game predictions, fashion, sneakers,
and memorabilia. The content will be available throughout the regular season,
NBA All-Star, the NBA Playoffs, and The Finals, bringing the latest NBA trends
and news through various interactive formats, such as short videos and live
streaming by celebrities and influencers, according to the press release.
NBA merchandise will
be available on the company’s Taobao and Tmall sites. Content will be
available on Alibaba’s video streaming site youku as well through its UC
Toby Xu, Vice
President of Alibaba Group said: “the NBA is one of the most popular sports
leagues in the world, with a sizable and passionate fan base in China. With
this expanded partnership, we will fully leverage Alibaba’s ecosystem to create
a unique digital experience and bring the NBA closer to fans and consumers in
Integrated platform offerings
The NBA’s deal with
Alibaba falls under the company’s A100 program. A100 brings together the
entire Alibaba ecosystem to help brands digitize their operations in
China. It allows brands to tap into the Alibaba services that best fit
their business operations, ranging from retail and payments to cloud computing
and marketing, and more, according to Alibaba’s press release.
Alibaba's Deep Basketball Ties
At Alibaba, the love
of basketball runs deep. Co-founder and Executive Vice Chairman Joseph
Tsai is also an owner of The Brooklyn Nets and the WNBA’s New York Liberty,
according to Reuters.
The article also noted that Alibaba’s Tmall platform has been selling NBA
merchandise since 2012.
Growth of sports in China
Between 2012 and
2016, the sports industry grew from 950 billion yuan to over 1.9 trillion yuan
and is expected to grow to nearly 3.6 trillion yuan by 2022, according to
Statista. A report by CNBC attributed the growth of interest in sports in China
to the growth of digital platforms that allows the Chinese population to choose
when and how to view sports.
China's deep ties to Basketball
We may think of
basketball as a uniquely American game but it is deeply embedded in the Chinese
culture. It was in 1896, when Dr. James Naismith nailed up his first
peach basket at his gymnasium in Springfield, Mass., that a government official
named Piengiane introduced the game to China. It caught on immediately
and has always been a deeply ingrained part of the culture, according to an NBA
article. The article noted the export of
Chinese basketball players such as Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin of “Linsanity” fame
of furthering the popularity of the sport.
China - a focus for the NBA
China has become a
major emphasis for the NBA, according to a Forbes article which noted that some
640 million people in China watched some kind of NBA programming over the
course of the 2017-2018 season.
The NBA and Tencent, already in a digital partnership, entered a five-year
expansion of their partnership in 2015.
Tencent will feature a record number of live NBA games and deliver enhanced
original NBA programming and highlights, according to an NBA press
release. NBA live games and content will be available for fans to access
through various Tencent platforms and the company will offer viewers access to
a full season of live and on-demand NBA games online and via mobile devices.
The NBA also has
deals with other Chinese digital and internet companies such as Baidu and
ByteDance, according to Forbes.
Sports viewership has
experienced rapid growth. Basketball has deep roots in the Chinese
culture and is expected to be a source of growth for the NBA, based on their
expectations. As such, the NBA continues to pursue different avenues to
grow interest and viewership in the country. The NBA’s recent agreement
with Alibaba is one example of their growth initiatives.
Alibaba may benefit from increased exposure to NBA
content and merchandise. The agreement may help to increase the variety
of content available on Alibaba’s platforms as well as the breadth of its
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