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Fox Inks Movie Deal With Chinese VOD Site

11 Jan, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has signed a deal with Chinese video website Youku for the distribution of 250 movies through the service’s nascent premium VOD platform.

With an expansive, exploding middle class, China remains a luring and largely untapped market for Hollywood. It’s also the No.1 aggregator of pirated content, including low-cost, black-market DVDs, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. And Beijing’s stifling quota on foreign movie imports (i.e. Hollywood theatrical releases) allows just 20 films into the country annually.

Youku, once a major distributor of unlicensed video content, now vows to protect intellectual copyrights through the creation of a “compelling” platform aimed at attracting millions of Chinese Internet users, said Huilong Zhu, VP of movie operations and corporate development, according to Asia Tech News For The World, which first reported the agreement.

To entice transactional video on demand, Youku offers the first five minutes of a movie free — a strategy it says resulted in tripling online purchases during the second and third quarters of 2011. A perusal of the site’s movie page finds myriad Chinese movies interspersed with studio titles such as Dolphin Tale, Kung Fu Panda, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1 and Contagion, among others. Youku Premium users now purchase at least one transactional VOD movie a month.

A Fox representative was not immediately available for comment.

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