Alibaba to do a Netflix in two months

Staff writer
Future TV Asia

Chinese internet giant Alibaba will launch an online video streaming service in China in about two months, according to media reports last week.

Dubbed Tmall Box Office (TBO), the service is expected to offer content from China and other countries, said Patrick Liu, Alibaba’s head of digital entertainment.

Unlike other Chinese rivals that offer movies and TV shows mostly for free, Alibaba will provide about 90% of TBO’s content through monthly subscriptions or on a pay-per-view basis. The remaining content would be free.

Alibaba signaled its interest in China’s booming online video market last year when it bought a 16.5% stake in Youku Tudou, one of the largest video streaming sites in the country.

China’s online video market is highly competitive, one where players are known to spend billions of dollars on content in a bid to stay ahead of rivals. It is currently being dominated by services such as Tencent Video, iQiyi, Sohu.com and LeTV.            

Netflix is reportedly mulling an entry into China, which is known to be a difficult market to crack for foreign Internet companies. Earlier this month, Disney partnered with Youku Tudou to market Marvel films and TV shows in China.

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Trends are likely to result in an increase in overall spend by service providers, although this is increasingly concentrated on a relatively smaller amount of content