image

China Conference

Riding the digital wave: Video-streaming site LeTV claims it is No 3 e-commerce player in China after Alibaba, JD.com as LeMall takes off

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 November, 2015, 8:48pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 November, 2015, 8:59pm

Chinese entertainment portal LeTV has repeated its success in offering streamed video to the country’s hitherto content-starved masses by diversifying into e-commerce, and its LeMall online shopping platform now ranks behind domestic rivals Alibaba and JD.com only, it said Monday.

“LeMall.com has 20 million unique visitors a week, and that makes us the third-largest e-commerce site in China,” said Mok Chui-tin, LeTV’s chief executive for Asia-Pacific.

The company sells its hardware including smartphones, set-top boxes, televisions, virtual reality headsets and numerous accessories on the platform and made the jump to China’s No 3 player after issuing a series of discounts in the middle of September, he said.

He made the remarks at the South China Morning Post’s China Conference in Hong Kong.

In the first nine months of 2015, sales of the company’s hardware has generated income of 4 billion yuan (US$631.2 million), or nearly half of its total income over the period, according to its recently released financial report for the third quarter.

The company has sold over 2 million smart TV this year, according to estimates by Goldman Sachs Gao hua, a joint venture between the American investment bank and Chinese partner Beijing Gao Hua Securities Company.

LeMall’s performance highlights the company’s success in selling hardware as well as its strategy in creating an ecosystem of content, software and hardware.

Online streaming services are facing fierce competition in China as domestic internet conglomerates splash out on their own video platform.

They are vying for exclusive content rights and increasingly moving to produce their own movies and television shows.

LeTV is also earmarking a large budget to deliver original content. In September it purchased the rights to broadcast English Premier League matches in Hong Kong.

Unlike other streaming companies, it is also selling cheap hardware that offers high-quality performance to boost its content business.

Late last month, LeTV released its flagship smartphone Le 1s, which has specifications in line with other high-end phones including the iPhone 6s. It retails for 1,099 yuan, which LeTV claims is lower than the cost of production.

The company also released a 120-inch television for about half the price of rivals with similar specs.

“It is time for the ecosystem to support the hardware,” said LeTV CEO Jia Yueting at the launch event for the smartphone.

To offset the recent investment in content and hardware, Jia said he is selling the company’s stock to restock its coffers.

He sold more than 5 per cent of its total shares last month after offloading 2 per cent in June, raising a total of 5.7 billion yuan to support future operations, according to the company.