As France won its second World Cup after beating Croatia on July 15, Chinese video streamers are also busy celebrating their soaring viewerships.
Migu Video, a subsidiary of state-owned telecommunication giant China Mobile, announced on Weibo that the Word Cup matches received more 4.3 billion views in total and more than 200 million views of the final game. Alibaba backed-Youku, the other of the two platforms that had the right to stream the World Cup matches, reported more than 180 million users, 14 percent of China’s population, watched the game during the period and 24 million watched final in a press release. Neither of these numbers has been confirmed by a third party.
However, these two platforms didn’t broadcast the game live directly from Russia. These two platforms cooperated with CCTV-5, the sports channel of the China Central Television family of networks. CCTV-5 is the sole broadcaster of all FIFA games in China between 2018 and 2022. Thus, when watching the matches on Youku or Migu, the CCTV-5 logo was still present on the top left corner. CCTV5 had 22 million viewers of the first match of the World Cup while Youku reported 12 million.
According to local media reports, Youku paid about RMB 1.6 billion royalty fees while Migu paid about RMB 10 billion. There was no information revealed about how much money these two platforms gained by broadcasting the World Cup matches, but experts doubted the figures would cover the costs.
With the help of Alibaba Cloud, Youku featured smooth high-resolution streaming while Migu utilized AI to produce featured clips based on user preference. Apart from live streaming the matches, Youku released several World Cup-themed shows during the period, including talk shows featured famous Chinese football commentators.
Besides drawing more customers downloading the mobile apps of the platforms, companies also viewed the World Cup as an opportunity to expand their sports business. Migu announced the partnership with Suning Sports to broadcast UEFA Champions League and other world’s top soccer matches when the World Cup neared its end.