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Alibaba takes Pac-12 content to China under expanded partnership

Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba has extended and expanded its partnership with US college sports organisation the Pac-12 Conference, taking in media rights distribution for the first time.

Under the deal announced today (Thursday), Alibaba will distribute Pac-12 Networks content across linear and digital channels through 2024, along with extending its sponsorship of the annual Pac-12 China Basketball Game through 2020.

The partnership is at the centre of Pac-12 Global, an initiative launched in 2011 to expand the reach of the conference’s 12 universities through live events and content distribution, along with enhancing the experience of student-athletes through sporting and cultural exchange.

Starting this autumn sports season, Alibaba will annually distribute 175 live Pac-12 Networks events and 100 hours of original programming throughout mainland China. Alibaba will distribute the content on platforms including video-sharing service Youku Todou.

Sports airing on Alibaba’s platforms will include American football, men’s basketball, women’s volleyball, gymnastics, swimming, lacrosse, track and field, and beach volleyball.

Alibaba has been working with the Pac-12’s international arm, Pac-12 Global, since 2015 to provide student-athletes with academic and cultural experiences in China and to sponsor the annual regular-season basketball game in Shanghai.

The Pac-12 was the first US sports league, professional or collegiate, to host a regular-season basketball game in China when the University of Washington defeated the University of Texas in the inaugural Pac-12 China Game in 2015.

Last year, Stanford defeated Harvard, while the third annual Pac-12 China Game will tip off the conference’s men’s basketball season on November 11 in Shanghai’s Baoshan Sports Center as UCLA takes on Georgia Tech.

Larry Scott, commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference, said: “Alibaba’s agreement to distribute Pac-12 college sports content across its channels demonstrates their confidence in the value of our content and brand, and aligned global vision that we have for college sports and the student-athlete experience.”

Joe Tsai, executive vice-chairman of Alibaba Group, added: “This partnership demonstrates our shared value with the Pac-12, that the pursuit of athletic excellence is an integral part of education. We believe that Alibaba should be doing as much as we can to enhance the health, mind and well being of young people in China.”