Alibaba and Tencent Team Up in Rare Collaboration for Esports Live Streaming
Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings, China's two largest tech giants, are joining forces in a rare partnership to promote their flagship brands through esports.
The companies announced on Thursday an invitation-only esports tournament between Alibaba's Taobao e-commerce platform and Tencent's popular mobile game Honor of Kings. The finals will be live streamed on Taobao Live on August 5.
E-Commerce Platform Enters Esports Streaming
The collaboration marks Taobao's first foray into the esports live streaming sector dominated by platforms like Bilibili and Tencent's Huya and Douyu.
Alibaba's China commerce business, a major revenue driver, has suffered amid weak retail sales nationwide. The company reported a 3% year-on-year decline in that segment in Q1 2022. Meanwhile, Tencent, which operates the world's largest gaming business by revenue, saw domestic gaming sales rise 6% in the same quarter.
Partnership Comes Amid Economic Slowdown
The partnership comes as the companies fight to retain users and find new growth amid China's economic slowdown.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma reportedly advised the company in May to refocus on Taobao and its consumers to survive intense competition. He warned Alibaba could not take its dominance in e-commerce for granted.
Esports Gaining Traction in China
China has been promoting esports to boost its soft power before the upcoming Asian Games, where esports will debut as a medal event. Honour of Kings, one of the featured esport titles, has operated a Taobao store for years but never sponsored streams on the platform until now. Tencent's COO called esports a "globally influential" emerging sport in a critical development period.
Live Streaming Key to User Growth
Taobao said the collaboration has accelerated its shift towards esports streaming and helped grow its user numbers 70% year-on-year. It aims to retain its user base through live streams focused not just on shopping but also esports.
Alibaba and Tencent are collaborating on an esports tournament between Taobao and Honor of Kings, marking Taobao's entry into esports streaming.
The partnership comes as both companies look to boost growth amid China's economic slowdown. Esports is gaining traction in China ahead of the Asian Games.
Live streaming is key to user growth for Taobao. The platform is expanding beyond just shopping streams to esports to retain and grow its user base.