Alibaba Buys Broadcast Rights to Slate of Pac-12 College Sports

  • Pac-12 conference, home of UCLA, USC, to be shown across China
  • Football, men’s basketball, women’s volleyball part of deal

Pac-12's Scott Calls Alibaba Partnership a Big Deal

The Pac-12, the college sports conference that includes UCLA, USC, Stanford and Oregon, is about to get a lot more airtime in China.

Alibaba Group has acquired the rights to broadcast Pac-12 sports across China through 2024, part of a growing effort by the schools to market their teams -- and their academic programs -- to potential Chinese students and their parents. 

The goal, said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, “is growing interest in our universities overseas, and particularly in China. Sports play a valuable role in bringing exposure and interest.”

The deal marks the first time a college sports network will be made available in China. Owned by the universities in the conference, Pac-12 Networks began in 2012 and includes programming on one national and six regional TV networks, as well as digital and social platforms.

Alibaba will show 175 live events and 100 hours of original programming annually, some of it via Youku Tudou, also known as the YouTube of China. The slate of sports will include football, men’s basketball, women’s volleyball, gymnastics, swimming, lacrosse and beach volleyball, said the conference.

The financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. It also includes an extension of Alibaba’s sponsorship of the annual Pac-12 China Basketball Game through 2020. This year’s game pits UCLA against Georgia Tech on Nov. 11 in Shanghai.

The conference began its partnership with Alibaba two years ago as part of Pac-12 Global, which was designed to extend the reach of conference members through live events and enhance the student-athlete experience through sports and culture exchange.

There are currently 27,000 Chinese nationals enrolled at Pac-12 schools, with 12,000 alumni living in China.

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