Alibaba’s offer at Disney: shows on Youku


Disney has just turned down the business deal with Netflix, but not with Alibaba. The entertainment branch of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group, said that it has inked a deal with The Walt Disney Co to offer Disney’s animated series and movies on Youku, its video streaming service.

The agreement was made with the picture distributor Buena Vista International and subscribers of online streaming service Youku will be able to access over 1,000 episodes of animated television series.

The agreement taken by Alibaba is not just about Youku, in fact, even families that have set-top boxes and partnering smart TV platforms can take advantage of part of the services with hundreds of Disney films including blockbuster titles such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Beauty and the Beast and Frozen.

Yang Weidong, president of Youku, said: “The addition of Disney content will greatly enrich the library of quality international content on Alibaba’s media and entertainment ecosystem, giving us a leading edge in foreign content distribution in China”.

However, the results achieved by Youku are impressive. A viewer study conducted by independent research institute Guduo Media revealed that Youku dramas generated a total of 21.7 billion views in the third quarter of 2017 and every day Youku reaches 580 million devices.

Nevertheless,  Disney also has its interests. Disney is looking to penetrate deeper into the country by leveraging its intellectual properties in movies and TV series. For example, to promote the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Disney used the Shanghai Disney Resort. According to Robert Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, China has “an extremely vital market”.

Furthermore, Disney’s interest is not just for movies and TV series, Disney has much more to sell. In May last year, Disney opened an online lifestyle shop targeting fashionistas on Tmall, a new service in addition to the children’s wear and merchandise for a younger crowd.

The Youku agreements are not limited to Disney, in fact in November it inked an exclusive deal with Netflix to distribute its hit original drama series Day and Night. Thus China will enter the screens of over 109 million subscribers worldwide.

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