Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Jun 15, 2015

Will Tmall Box Office 'sabotage' Netflix's China launch?

SHANGHAI - What a difference three months makes. In March, Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos told reporters in Shanghai that the US video-streaming service was pursuing a launch in China. Yesterday, Alibaba threw a spanner in the works.

Alibaba's Patrick Liu (刘春宁)
Alibaba's Patrick Liu (刘春宁)

Patrick Liu, president of Alibaba Group's digital entertainment unit spoke about the impending Tmall Box Office (TBO, or 天猫票房 in Chinese) yesterday after his presentation at the Shanghai Film Festival forum.

Ironically, Liu himself has taken inspiration directly from Netflix, according to Reuters. "Our mission, the mission of all of Alibaba, is to redefine home entertainment," said Liu. "Our goal is to become like become like Netflix in the United States."

The TBO service, a mostly paid video-streaming service over the Tmall set top box, will be launched in about two months—way ahead of the anticipated Netflix launch. Netflix has not even completed negotiations with Chinese partners in trying to get internet-TV licences granted, much less prepared for actual market entry. One analyst on CNBC went as far as to say the Netflix entry is five years away from happening.

Unlike most domestic competitors (QQ Video, iQiyi, Sohu, Youku, Tudou) 90 per cent of TBO's video content will be "premium", i.e. payable, either through a monthly subscription or on a pay-per-view basis. Alibaba will purchase content from other countries, but will also produce original content independently.

In a written statement this morning, an Alibaba Group spokeswoman confirmed the launch and added that "content is an integral part of Alibaba Group's ecosystem and we aim to provide our users with rich and unique content on-demand and on a variety of devices."

Related Articles

Just Published

6 hours ago

All of STB’s multi-faceted marketing initiatives so far

Perhaps no government department in the region has been as aggressive with its marketing than the Singapore Tourism Board, whose domestic tourism push has kicked into high gear in the last few weeks.

6 hours ago

Beautiful swan conveys an ugly truth about plastic ...

The Works used 10,000 plastic bottles to build the 5-meter-tall sculpture to draw attention to the launch of a recycling program.

7 hours ago

Shopee launches partner program for five media agencies

Shopee to provide training and technical support to five major media agencies in hopes of "elevating the standards" of ecommerce marketing in the long-term.

7 hours ago

TikTok spotlights Australia's creators in major ...

Several Aussies who have built big followings feature in the 'It starts on TikTok' campaign, by brand-experience agency Akcelo.