Alibaba’s online video hub Youku will livestream all 64 games from the 2018 Fifa World Cup along with exclusive content and highlights in what it claims is China’s most comprehensive coverage of the event.
Youku has partnered with China Central Television (CCTV), which has exclusive streaming rights in China, to stream the games and will also co-produce an exclusive talk show featuring celebrity guests and football fans.
The Alibaba-owned video site will also screen a sports program, an education program targeting younger audiences called ‘Play football with Peppa Pig’, highlights videos and more than 20 online World Cup programs.
Alibaba businesses will also provide exclusive content, promotions and red envelopes in a bid to create an “around-the-clock” integrated experience.
Alibaba will partner with brands to provide promotions across e-commerce, restaurant and takeaway food orders, travel and entertainment content. Youku will run an interactive campaign where customers can collect cards to win red envelopes. UC Web, Todou, Xiami Music and Damai will also create World Cup-related content including short videos, music, and graphics.
Alibaba’s AI-powered smart speaker Tmall Genie will face off against a Boston lobster from Hema to predict game winners, in the tradition of Paul the Octopus with all predictions and results announced in a dedicated program.
Alibaba claims it is the first time Chinese consumers will have access to live broadcasts of the entire tournament on their mobile phones.
Weidong Yang, chief executive of AliMusic and president of Alibaba Digital Media & Entertainment Group and Youku, said, “Given its level of popularity, sports content in China is an effective tool in implementing Alibaba Group’s ‘Double H’ strategy, which aims to promote ‘Health’ and ‘Happiness’.”
"Not only are we streaming soccer matches, but we’re also leveraging this leading sports event to showcase the power of the Alibaba ecosystem and how Youku can lead the industry and capture opportunities in the China sports market by building relevant content and excitement."
“The extensive offerings from Youku around the 2018 FIFA World Cup reaffirm our commitment to bring the world’s best sports events to Chinese audiences. The widespread support from the Alibaba ecosystem also empowers Youku to deliver a superb experience for users to enjoy the popular month-long tournament in many new and innovative ways,” said Yang.
China is set to have a strong presence at the 2018 Fifa World Cup despite not fielding a team with a large number of Chinese brand's sponsoring the event and increasing advertising spend.