Chinese internet titans Alibaba, Sina team up to ‘transform the Chinese sports industry'
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, along with media corporation Sina and Yunfeng Capital, on Wednesday announced the formation of Alibaba Sports Group, which aims to "transform China's sports industry through internet-enabled technology".
In a statement Alibaba said the new group will leverage the e-commerce firm's existing sales and logistics ecosystem, as well as the experience and connections of its new chief executive, Zhang Dazhong, former vice president of the Shanghai Media Group.
It did not elaborate on how the partnership will work or what content it will produce or distribute.
"Sports has the enduring ability to create shared happiness and encourage healthy lifestyles," said Alibaba Group chief executive Daniel Zhang.
"Alibaba Sports Group aims to transform the China sports industry through the use of internet-based technologies to bring greater and better products and services to consumers, sports participants and sports fans alike."
Integrated e-commerce, media, marketing, video, home entertainment, cloud computing and other internet-enabled technologies will help "to form a sports platform that will participate in different aspects of the professional sports industry, including sports copyrights, sports media, events [and] ticketing", the group said in a statement.
Alibaba has previously partnered with a number of major sports teams and personalities, including European football powerhouse Bayern Munich and NBA icon Kobe Bryant, to sell their products through its e-commerce platforms.
The company is also a 40 per cent stakeholder in Chinese football team Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao FC, which Alibaba chairman and founder Jack Ma Yun told a conference in October last year he bought after getting drunk with owner Hui Ka Yan.
China has become a key target for European football clubs, with many teams, from Liverpool to Inter Milan, playing friendlies in the country. This year, CCTV will also broadcast the English Premier League for the first time since 2003.
Away from football, other Chinese business tycoons have also seen value in global sports brands.
Last month, property and entertainment mogul Wang Jianlin, who last month ranked as China’s richest man, bought World Triathlon Corporation, the American owner of the Ironman races, for US$650 million.
Wang's firm, Dalian Wanda Group, also owns Spanish football club Atletico Madrid.