Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has expanded its business to finance, logistics, medicine, big data, movies, social media, search engine, O2O and soccer, and recent rumors suggest that the company may be interested in buying a stake in Sina Sports.
Alibaba stepped into the sports field in June 2014 when it purchased 50 percent of Guangzhou Evergrande Football Club for 1.2 billion RMB (US$187.88 million). The team was renamed to Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao Football Club. Alibaba Founder and Chairman Jack Ma said he is not a soccer expert but he made the deal in just 15 minutes. Due to the government support for sports, particularly in soccer, the Chinese soccer field has attracted much investment in recent years. The market size of the sport is expected to reach 800 billion RMB.
Besides soccer, sources from the investment circle revealed that Alibaba plans to invest tens of millions of U.S. dollars in Chinese sports media Sina Sports.
In January, Tencent Sports struck a five-year digital partnership deal with the NBA for US$500 million, becoming the exclusive digital broadcaster in China. Before that, Sina Sports was the major broadcaster for NBA games in China.
Alibaba and Sina have had a long partnership; the former is one of the major shareholders of Sina Weibo. Advertisements on Taobao generate an important portion of income for Weibo. Thus, it is no surprise that the two companies form strategic partnership in sports.