Probably the most recognised football club on the planet, Manchester United has agreed a deal with Alibaba Group’s Youku video streaming service that will include select first-team matches, highlights, and original content for a Chinese audience.

According to a release from the club, the partnership will not only include a distinct Man Utd channel on the video streaming platform, but also a dedicated store on Tmall, Alibaba’s consumer marketplace, which “will become the official online marketplace store selling Manchester United merchandise to Chinese consumers.” The site reaches around 700 million consumers in the country.

Linked “prominently” from the Youku Sport portal, will feature Academy, Women’s and first team tour games, plus first team games shown on-demand and global and China-specific content. It is not yet clear exactly how many games that entails and whether there will be any from the Premier League.

For the club, which already enjoys significant recognition both in China and across the world. “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,” explained Richard Arnold, Manchester United Group Managing Director.

This year, the club, which has consistently led the way in terms of what a football team can become as a commercial entity – it was the first club to reach a value of $1bn, back in 2015 – has doubled down on China.

In July, United said it was seeking to engage a claimed 100 million Chinese fans with the launch of a dedicated Chinese-language app – again, a first among British teams – alongside an experience centre in Beijing.

Sourced from Manchester United, WARC