The National Basketball Association (NBA) is expanding its partnership with Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, to provide fans in China with original programming and an easier way to buy league merchandise online.

An “NBA Section” will be launched across all Alibaba platforms, including online marketplaces Tmall and Taobao as well as video-streaming platform Youku and content platform UC.

The agreement means the NBA will gain access to nearly 700 million consumers across Alibaba’s platforms and it builds on a collaboration that dates back to 2012, when Tmall launched a flagship store to sell NBA-licensed merchandise.

NBA China and Alibaba also revealed in a statement that the new original programming will cover a wide range of popular basketball topics, including game predictions, fashion, sneakers and memorabilia.

Content will cover NBA All-Star, the NBA Playoffs and The Finals and include the latest NBA trends and news through various interactive formats, such as short videos and livestreaming by celebrities and influencers.

It is also reported that the NBA and Alibaba will offer business partners “robust marketing solutions” to help them promote their brands across Alibaba’s platforms.

“The NBA is always looking to innovate, and we are absolutely thrilled to expand our partnership with Alibaba,” said Derek Chang, CEO of NBA China.

“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,” he added.

Also commenting on the deal, Toby Xu, VP of Alibaba Group, said: “The NBA is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world, with a sizable and passionate fan base in China.

“With this expanded partnership, we will fully leverage Alibaba’s ecosystem to create a unique digital experience and bring the NBA closer to fans and consumers in China.”

The development marks the latest move by the NBA to expand its online presence in China and comes just a few months after announcing in November that it had formed a global partnership with Chinese technology company ByteDance to deliver content through several platforms, including TikTok. The NBA also struck a deal with Tencent Holdings in 2015.

Sourced from NBA, Alibaba, PR Newswire; additional content by WARC staff