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Disneylife SVOD Service Suspended in China

28 Apr, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

On the heels of Apple iTunes being shut down, Chinese regulators have reportedly suspended Disneylife, the upstart subscription streaming service operated in association with e-commerce behemoth Alibaba.

ShanghaiDaily.com April 27 reported that Alibaba had begun issuing refunds to subscribers of the five-month-old service — Disney’s second attempt (after the U.K.) at going direct-to-consumer with proprietary movies and music content. No official reason for the refunds was given.

The crackdown on foreign content reportedly is due to revised laws enacted last month that enable regulators to restrict online access to Chinese media platforms partnering with foreign companies such as Hollywood studios.

Disney, which is launching Shanghai Disney in June, is one of several major U.S. media companies attempting to capitalize on China’s burgeoning theatrical market and middle-class consumer spending on entertainment. Disneylife is available via set-top devices marketed by Alibaba.

Netflix recently disclosed efforts to launch service in China appeared to be going nowhere.

“We are continuing discussions but have no material update on our approach or timing,” CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells wrote in the shareholder letter. “Whatever we do will have only a modest financial effect in the near term.”

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