By Evan DeSimone
Alibaba Group Holding Limited, the Chinese e-commerce giant whose interests extend to online video, announced today a wide ranging deal with L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant for distribution of the shooting guard’s biographical documentarym as well as merchandising opportunities across Alibaba’s retail platforms.
The deal reached between Alibaba and the newly-formed Kobe Inc. will see Bryant’s autobiographical documentary film “Kobe Bryant’s Muse” — which aired in the U.S. on Showtime in 2014 — distributed exclusively on Alibaba’s digital internet set-top device, the TMall Magic Box. To support the release, Alibaba will also partner with global Chinese media conglomerate Sina to create a new Kobe-branded social media platform aimed at Chinese millennials. Bryant is already popular on Chinese social media, boasting over 2 million followers on Sina’s Weibo micro-blogging platform.
The partnership between Alibaba and Kobe, Inc. will also utilize Alibaba’s traditional strengths in the retail and e-commerce sector. The two companies will collaborate on a line of Kobe branded products to be sold on Alibaba’s retail platforms including the popular Taobao Marketplace and TMall.com.
Founded in 1999, Alibaba is China’a leading internet retailer. The companies interests range from domestic and international digital shopping destinations, digital infratstructure for standalone internet retail sites, travel, communications technology and media. As the company expands its digital media interests. it plans for the partnership with Bryant to serve as a template for what it calls SMEP (Star, Media, Platform) digital products.