Netflix is looking for partners to expand into the burgeoning online video market in China. One such prospective ally is Jack Ma-backed Wasu Media Holding Company, which is backed by Jack Ma and reportedly having discussions with the U.S. streaming service as it tries to enter the world’s most populated country, according to Bloomberg.
Local partnership essential for Netflix
Previously, the streaming company claimed it was devising strategies to launch a “modest” service in China, provided it gets authorization to operate in the region. In this regard, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings previously stated, “For every country we know what we want to do, but in China we are still exploring our options.”
More specifically, the company is said to be looking for a partner that possesses licenses to display content on all platforms, for instance, computers, set-top boxes, mobile phones, etc. Considering the strict licensing rules regarding online content in the country, partnership with a local company is going to be essential for Netflix.
Xu Feng, vice president of Shanghai-based Bes TV New Media Co., told The WSJ that the company would like to collaborate with Netflix, especially in view of the latter’s global presence, but also suggested that the companies would first need to acknowledge the difficulties associated with such a partnership, for instance, policy constraints on foreign online content. Wasu Media also mentioned similar problems.
Netflix already popular in China
Jack Ma, executive chairman of Wasu Media and founder of Alibaba, suggested that the companies have had several meetings since February aimed at delivering Netflix’s content on mobile phones, internet TV and other streaming platforms in China. Moreover, Ma claimed that there still remains a need for the companies to understand each other better, as the U.S. content industry is different from the one in Asia.
However, Netflix already seems to be quite popular in China. Its original series House of Cards has been claimed to be watched by a number of Chinese, including the country’s powerful anti-corruption leader, Wang Qishan. Also the first two seasons of the series were found to be among the most-watched content on local video streaming site Sohu.com. Although its third season has not been officially released there, the country has already become the leading downloader of pirated episodes of it. The release of the third season has been delayed in China due to the new rule that requires foreign shows to be first reviewed by the country’s media regulator.