Wednesday 17 January 2018

Alibaba to launch Netflix-like video streaming service in two months

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd founder Jack Ma poses with staff
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd founder Jack Ma poses with staff

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba will launch an online video streaming service in China in about two months, hoping to emulate the US's Netflix and HBO, according to the firm's head of digital entertainment.

The service will be called 'TBO', or Tmall Box Office, with content bought from China and other countries, as well as in-house productions, Alibaba's Patrick Liu told reporters in Shanghai.

TBO will launch into a competitive online video market in China, where companies are spending billions of dollars to buy media content to attract enough viewers to become dominant.

Alibaba's new service will go up against the likes of Tencent Holdings, Baidu's iQiyi and Leshi Internet Information & Technology Corp Beijing.

"Our mission, the mission of all of Alibaba, is to redefine home entertainment," said Liu. "Our goal is to become like HBO in the United States, to become like Netflix in the United States."

It was not immediately clear how the service would fit with Youku Tudou, one of China's biggest video streaming platforms in which Alibaba bought a 16.5pc stake last year.

However, unlike the majority of domestic rivals, about 90pc of TBO's content will be paid for, either by monthly subscription or on a show-by-show basis, Liu said. The remaining 10pc would be free.

Netflix itself is also considering an entry into China, a notoriously difficult task for foreign Internet companies.


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