Alibaba cuts deal to stream Lionsgate movie, television content in China

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 1:15am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 1:15am

Alibaba and US-based entertainment company Lionsgate announced plans yesterday for a movie and television streaming service on the mainland, as the Chinese internet giant expands beyond its e-commerce core.

Alibaba, whose flagship site Taobao holds more than 90 per cent of China's online consumer-to-consumer market, is preparing for a multibillion-dollar stock offer on the New York Stock Exchange that could rival Facebook's flotation.

The Chinese company will offer Lionsgate content, which includes the television series Mad Men and the movie franchise The Hunger Games, through its set-top boxes with an expected launch next month, the companies said in a statement. It did not specify what content would be available. Beijing censors material it deems politically sensitive or obscene.

The service is subscription-only and higher-level VIP membership will include screening invitations and merchandise offers, the statement said.

Movies and television programmes are widely pirated in China through DVD copies and illegal downloads.

Alibaba last year started selling television set-top boxes under the name Wasu Rainbow, offering domestic and foreign television shows on demand and allowing users to shop on its group buying platform.

"This cooperation signals our ongoing commitment to advance our vision of making digital media entertainment available to our customers anywhere, anytime," said Patrick Liu, president of Alibaba Group's digital entertainment business unit.

In March, Alibaba also bought a majority stake in Hong Kong-listed ChinaVision Media Group, which is engaged in media businesses and movie production.