Disney, Alibaba Strike Deal for Online Content
Alibaba’s entertainment unit has struck a deal to broadcast more than 1,000 Disney movies and cartoon episodes in China.
The deal follows more than a year of negotiations. Previous regulatory intervention had abruptly ended the American media giant’s initial effort to deliver content to internet users in China.
Under the agreement between Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group and The Walt Disney Co.’s distributor, Buena Vista International, subscribers to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Youku online video streaming service will have access to animated series in addition to movies such as “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Frozen,” Alibaba said Sunday. The agreement’s financial details were not announced.
The deal is expected to give Alibaba and Youku “a leading edge in foreign content distribution in China,” Youku President Yang Weidong said.
Disney content will also be made available through Alibaba’s set-top boxes and smart TVs, which the Chinese company said are used by nearly 30 million households nationwide.
The agreement marks a comeback for Disney after regulators forced the shutdown of the DisneyLife video streaming service in April 2016 for undisclosed violations of Chinese publishing rules.
Before the shutdown, DisneyLife content was available in China through a partnership with Alibaba that launched in late 2015. The service offered TV programs, movies, audiobooks and other content through Mickey Mouse-shaped set-top boxes.
Disney is not the only U.S. media company working hard to penetrate the entertainment market in the world's most populous country. Another is Netflix, the world’s largest video subscription provider, which last year formed a partnership with Chinese online search giant Baidu Inc.
The Baidu-owned streaming service iQiyi has been delivering Netflix programs, including the Netflix-produced series “Black Mirror” and “Stranger Things,” since April.
Alibaba took over Youku in 2016, a year after launching its Tmall Box Office video-streaming service.
Contact reporter Teng Jing Xuan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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