Baidu, the largest search engine in China, has announced a partnership with Perform Group, a leading digital sports content and media group and owner of the Goal brand (which includes goal.com). The arrangement has resulted in the launch of a co-branded portal, Goal Baidu (goal.baidu.com), combining the two.
“This is a game-changing milestone for Goal and for Chinese football fans,” said Martyn Jones, Goal.com’s global general manager. “In recent years, we’ve seen a new breed of fan emerge that’s young, socially inclined, mobile dependent and demanding a new type of football content. While traditional media have struggled to service their needs, Goal Baidu will give them what they want: the biggest stars, the fastest news and stories that provide them with social ammunition to share. With Baidu, we will engage this new breed of fan at scale.”
The collaboration goes further by creating a team of local and international digital football experts, who will collaborate with Goal’s existing, 500-strong network of journalists, affording Chinese football fans comprehensive coverage of the biggest clubs and stars, while evolving a new perspective on the ambitious Chinese Super League.
The site’s live component will be powered by Perform’s sports data business, Opta, and provide relevant info for stat-hungry fans. Opta is the official data partner of the EPL, Bundesliga and MLS, among others, and is used by over 800 broadcasters, media outlets, governing bodies, brands and sponsors in over 40 countries.
Baidu’s subsidiary, Beijing Lehecai Technology Co. Ltd., will operate online advertising sales and marketing activities. Goal Studios, Perform’s digital football agency, will partner with Lehecai to activate Goal’s global partnerships, including Nissan and Toyota, and help Chinese brands, clubs and rights-holders connect with international football fans.
The hunger for football in China is undeniable with brands and clubs looking to crack the world’s largest market. Additionally, the Chinese Super League is being aggressive in attracting and paying international talent well. Brazilian midfielder Alex Teixeira signed for a record $56m with Jiangsu Suning and the league, which spent $300m in the last winter transfer window, is not shy about its intentions. Moreover, the Chinese government has signaled its desire to become a “world football superpower” by 2050, investing heavily in training centers and pitches.
All things considered, this new partnership between Baidu and Perform appears to have arrived at the right time.
Jacopo Tonoli, Perform Group CCO commented: “Our collaboration with Baidu demonstrates our ambition. The timing couldn’t be more appropriate. With the surge in interest in the Chinese Super League, we are delighted to have a partner who shares our vision.”