SHANGHAI: Alibaba and US-based entertainment company Lionsgate on Tuesday announced plans for a movie and television streaming service in mainland China, as the Chinese Internet giant expands beyond its e-commerce core.
Alibaba, whose flagship site Taobao holds more than 90 percent of China’s online consumer-to-consumer market, is preparing for a multi-billion-dollar stock offer on the New York Stock Exchange that could rival Facebook’s flotation.
The Chinese company will offer Lionsgate content, which includes the television series “Mad Men” and the movie franchise “The Hunger Games,” through its set-top boxes with an expected launch next month, the companies said in a statement.
It did not specify what content would be available. China censors material authorities deem politically sensitive or obscene.
The service is subscription-only and higher-level VIP membership will include screening invitations and merchandise offers, the statement said.
Movies and TV programs are widely pirated in China through DVD copies and illegal downloads.
Alibaba last year started selling television set-top boxes under the name Wasu Rainbow, offering domestic and foreign television shows on demand and allowing users to shop on its group buying platform.
“This cooperation signals our ongoing commitment to advance our vision of making digital media entertainment available to our customers anywhere, anytime,” Patrick Liu, president of Alibaba Group’s digital entertainment business unit, said in the statement on the Lionsgate deal.