Alibaba’s Youku set to stream the World Cup
Alibaba’s (BABA) video streaming platform, Youku, is partnering with China Central Television to stream the FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) World Cup, which starts June 14. The deal covers live streaming of all of the soccer tournament’s 64 matches. Other major streaming players in the country include Tencent (TCEHY) Video and iQiyi (IQ). The lure of the World Cup could boost Youku’s user base.
China had a World Cup audience of over 252 million in 2014
Youku will be the only streaming provider to provide streaming of the event. The World Cup, which is being held in Russia this year, is one of the most watched sports events around the world, and China has millions of soccer fans.
According to FIFA, the previous World Cup in 2014 drew a Chinese television audience of over 252 million, as the graph above shows, representing 18.1% of the country’s population. That number was higher than any other country’s.
The Chinese Football Association Super League has piqued the Chinese population’s interest in soccer, and the Chinese government is keen on making the country a force in the sport. That said, the Chinese national team failed to make the cut for this year’s World Cup. The last time the country qualified for the World Cup was back in 2002.