The demand for new content and entertainment based platforms in China is insatiable with ‘Alibaba’ now the latest Chinese internet giant to launch a video streaming service. The e-commerce company were seemingly not joking when they boldly stated they wanted to be the ‘Netflix of China’.
The firm yesterday released a beta of its ‘Tmall Box Office’ (TBO) subscription service, it is currently only available to a small number of users for a monthly price of around $6.

Alibaba digital entertainment

Alibaba’s head of digital entertainment, Patrick Liu, said at the Shanghai International Film Festival that the company had ambitions “to become like HBO and Netflix in the U.S.” according to the wall street journal.

With the proliferation of digital channels in China it is unsurprising that firms are seeking to capitalize on the huge potential consumer market online. With an internet penetration rate of just under 50% and an online customer base twice the size of the US population, this is a lucrative opportunity for Alibaba.
TBO is likely to offer a combination of original and licensed content from China and overseas. Chinese internet rivals Baidu and Tencent both already have online video-streaming branches to their businesses. Reuters‘ reported that companies are spending “billions of dollars to buy media content to attract enough viewers to become dominant”.
Alibaba may well have the edge, last year the firm bought a 16.5 percent stake in Youku Tudou, one of China’s most popular video streaming platforms. They have proved they are serious about film and video media, ‘Alibaba Pictures’ was formed after the firm made an $800 million majority stake purchase in film studio ‘ChinaVision Media Group’ last year.
The video-streaming service sector is set to thrive but competition between internet giants, Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba is likely to be fierce.
Netflix itself is also considering entering into the Chinese market, a famously hard task for foreign companies with censorship, Chinese regulations and a very different online marketplace to contend with.
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