Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has taken yet another bold step to build a media empire. The Hangzhou-based company has signed a deal with China’s Hunan Satellite Television and film company DMG Entertainment. The deal will help Alibaba expand subscription-based cable, mobile and online entertainment to Chinese consumers, reports The Wall Street Journal.
New service to be offered via Alibaba’s Tmall
In the beginning, the trio will offer entertainment services including gaming, TV and film content to over six million cable TV subscribers of Hunan TV. Eventually, they will expand the service across China. It will be the first bundled mobile, Internet, and cable TV entertainment service in China. DMG Entertainment and Hunan revealed in a regulatory filing that the service will be offered through Alibaba’s Tmall platform.
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China is the world’s second-largest movie market after the U.S. in terms of revenue. Alibaba aims to cash in on the country’s movie boom. Alibaba as well as its rivals Tencent, Baidu and Sohu.com have been investing heavily in entertainment as more and more Chinese audiences watch videos and movies online. Alibaba has also acquired a 16.5% stake in Youku Tudou, one of the biggest digital video streaming services in China.
Alibaba has huge entertainment ambitions
Last month, the Hangzhou-based company announced that it would launch a Netflix-like online streaming service in China by the end of August. Named Tmall Box Office or TBO, the new service will provide HBO-like original productions as well as content purchased from Chinese and international producers. TBO will be offered only through Alibaba’s set-top box and smart TVs that carry its operating system.
Alibaba already owns a move-ticketing platform called Taobao Movie and a film studio – the Hong Kong listed Alibaba Pictures. Pricewaterhouse Coopers estimates that China’s online streaming market will be worth $214 billion by 2018. Last week, Alibaba partnered with Paramount Pictures to invest in and promote the Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation in China. Paramount Pictures and Alibaba Pictures will collaborate in the promotion, online ticketing, and merchandising of the next Mission: Impossible in China.