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China,Kids Content

Alibaba, Disney Join Hands On OTT

Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba, an increasingly prominent player in China’s entertainment ecosystem, is bringing Disney’s branded OTT service DisneyLife to China, in a deal thought to be worth ~US$100 million over three years.

The two companies announced presales of a Mickey Mouse-themed streaming device on Tmall, Alibaba’s online shopping site, for RMB799 (US$125) earlier this week. The price includes a one-year subscription to DisneyLife as a base package.

Alibaba will start shipping the devices from December 28. Subscribers must have an account with Alibaba’s consumer-to-consumer ecommerce site, Taobao, to access the service.

Further details will be revealed in due course, an Alibaba spokesperson tells Media Business Asia.

The service, which is billed as an internet TV service, will offer a variety of content, including Disney and Pixar movies, animated series, games, e-books and songs.

Users will also receive access to travel services for Disney theme parks in Shanghai, which is due to open next year, and Hong Kong, as well as other Alibaba products and services.

Content will be delivered through Wasu Media Network, one of seven license-holders for internet TV services in China.

Alibaba has a 20% stake in Wasu, one of China’s largest TV distribution companies, which also distributes content for TMall Box Office, Alibaba’s own internet TV service.

DisneyLife made its global debut in the UK as a monthly subscription service in November.

The internet TV space, representing access to streaming services via internet connected TVs and set-top boxes, has grown rapidly in recent years, with about 51 million paid subs in 2015 according to Media Partners Asia, compared with less than 28 million paid subs for video sites accessed through apps and directly online.

China’s overall video streaming market however will remain skewed towards advertising for the foreseeable future, as the overall digital market continues to increase its share of ad spend.

Alibaba has been actively expanding its media footprint this year, buying Youku Tudou, one of China’s biggest video streaming sites.

More recently, it joined a bid to buy domestic movie producer and distributor, Bona Film Group.

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