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NFL becomes first content partner for Alibaba’s sports venture

The Ali Sports division of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group has agreed a media partnership with American football league the NFL.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Ali Sports will hold rights to broadcast NFL games, highlights and weekly programming through online video platform Youku Tudou, as well as other OTT and mobile services in mainland China. The Yutang Sports website said the NFL will be the first major sports property to be aired through Ali’s sports channels.

Richard Young, managing director of NFL China, said: “NFL and American football have rapidly developed in China, and we’re excited and hopeful about the sport’s prospect in China.”

Alibaba Group in September entered into a collaboration with media corporation Sina and private equity firm Yunfeng Capital to establish Ali Sports, with the goal of “transforming” the country’s sports industry.

In November, Alibaba furthered its drive into the country’s digital media market by agreeing a deal to acquire Youku.

Alibaba already held an 18.3-per-cent stake in Youku and on October 16 made an initial offer of $26.60 (€23.40) per share to assume full control. This offer was increased to $27.60 per share, with Alibaba’s investment worth around $3.7bn.

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