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Youku to broadcast Man Utd matches as Alibaba gains exclusive China content rights

Alibaba Group has formed a partnership with Manchester United for the exclusive rights to club content in China.

The partnership will see Manchester United content presented and localised on multiple Alibaba platforms, including select first-team matches, highlights, and localised original productions. Reaching an audience of about 700 million, the content will be launched across Alibaba’s platforms and promoted through different channels, including a dedicated channel on Alibaba’s video-streaming platform Youku.

This Youku channel will feature the club’s academy, women’s and men’s team tour games, first team games shown on-demand, and global and China-specific content. The English club had already broadcast three games from their pre-season tour on the Youku homepage.

“Manchester United is one of the most popular and successful football teams in the world, with a sizable and passionate fan base in China. With this cooperation, we are leveraging Alibaba’s ecosystem to bring a unique Manchester United experience closer to fans and consumers in China,” said Michael Evans, president of Alibaba Group.

The partnership will also include the future establishment of a Manchester United flagship store on Tmall, which will become the official online marketplace store offering Manchester United merchandise to Chinese consumers. It will be linked from the Youku channel to create a seamless content and e-commerce experience.

“We are always looking for new ways to engage with fans there and this partnership with Alibaba enables them to connect with the club directly through one of China’s most popular video streaming platforms. We look forward to working with Alibaba to further grow our fan base in China and building on other areas of the partnership in the near future,” commented Richard Arnold, group managing director of Manchester United.

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