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Joe Tsai’s Alibaba to offer ‘NBA Section’ to its 700 million customers

Latest Consumer Technology Products On Display At Annual CES In Las Vegas Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

The NBA will soon offer Chinese fans original programming — and an easier way to buy league gear— through e-commerce giant Alibaba, the league and Alibaba announced Wednesday.

Joe Tsai, minority owner of the Nets and sole owner of the WNBA’s Liberty, is executive vice-chairman and second biggest stockholder in the Huangzhou-based e-commerce giant. Alibaba has nearly 700 million consumers across all its platforms which extend throughout Asia. Tsai’s ownership of the two New York teams is not through Alibaba but instead his family investment vehicle, Blue Pool Capital.

Alibaba did not mention Tsai’s role with the NBA in its press release announcing the deal, concluded by NBA China, on whose board Tsai sits. Still, the agreement is yet another connection between the NBA —and the Nets— and the huge Chinese market.

An “NBA Section” will be launched across Alibaba’s platforms, according to the company The Section will leverage Alibaba’s technology and consumer insights, allowing fans in China to enjoy personalized and engaging content, in addition to shopping for NBA merchandise all in one ecosystem.

NBA game highlights, original programming, and classic NBA games will be offered to Alibaba consumers including online marketplace Tmall, social commerce destination Taobao, video-streaming platform Youku and browser and content platform UC.

Alibaba said the original programming will cover a wide range of popular basketball and cultural topics, including game predictions, fashion, sneakers, and memorabilia. The content will be available throughout the regular season, NBA All-Star, the NBA Playoffs and The Finals, bringing the latest NBA trends and news through various interactive formats, such as short videos and livestreaming by NBA celebrities and “influencers.”

The NBA and Alibaba will also provide business partners with marketing solutions to promote their products and brands across Alibaba’s platforms, according to the press release issued in Beijing.

“The NBA is always looking to innovate, and we are absolutely thrilled to expand our partnership with Alibaba,” said NBA China CEO Derek Chang. “We share the same goal, which is to provide fans with one-of-a-kind online content consumption and shopping that leverages the latest technology. We look forward to working with Alibaba to continue to grow the game of basketball in China.”

The Nets will play a pair of exhibition games against the Lakers in China this October.