On Monday, the well known Chinese E-commerce giant, Alibaba and Lionsgate have signed a joint venture to create Lionsgate Entertainment World. They will offer Lionsgate’s titles such as “Twilight” films, “Hunger Games”, Divergent and TV shows such as “Mad Men”, “Weeds” and “The Royals”.
The new service will include premium content such as behind-the-scenes footage and features, along with membership benefits such as screening invitations and merchandise. This new service aims to launch the service in August and will be available exclusively through Alibaba’s latest generation of set-top box. The deal was brokered by David Lee, founder and president of Leeding Media.
Patrick Liu, President of Alibaba Group’s Digital Entertainment business unit said in a statement, “This cooperation signals our ongoing commitment to advance our vision of making digital media entertainment available to our customers anywhere, anytime”.
Alibaba Group was founded by Jack Ma and accounts for approximately 80% of e-commerce in China. Alibaba has filed for a New York IPO and is set to execute one of the largest tech IPOs in history. Alibaba has set eyes to expand their business into the entertainment industry, including the registration of its film unit, Alibaba Film Group, in Hong Kong.
Lionsgate Chief Executive, Jon Feltheimer said in a statement that “We’re pleased to collaborate with Alibaba, a world-class brand that is well known and respected among consumers throughout China“.
Alibaba’s challenge is to figure out censorship issues with the Chinese government since China censors materials deem politically sensitive or obscene. However, China is the 2nd largest movie market in the World and this new streaming service may just prove a new market for US video entertainment makers.
In a country where piracy is common, one can’t help but wonder whether people will pay to watch content or simply just download movies illegally with a click of the mouse.