Lionsgate Bowing SVOD Service in China15 Jul, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Mini-major partners with e-commerce giant Alibaba for latter’s set-top boxes and connected TVs
Lionsgate reportedly is planning to launch a subscription streaming service in China. The service, which begins in August, would be in partnership with Alibaba, one of the country’s largest e-commerce sites, and include the latter’s set-top boxes and connected TVs, according to Bloomberg.
Dubbed “Lionsgate Entertainment World,” the service would also include transactional video-on-demand and electronic sellthrough, featuring the Santa Monica, Calif.-based studio’s catalog of movies and TV shows, including The Hunger Games, Divergent, “Nashville,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Mad Men,” among others.
The service will also include bonus features and special features typically found on packaged media. Pricing and terms of the platform were not disclosed.
“It’s another way for us to get content into the China market with a great partner,” Jim Packer, president of worldwide television and digital distribution at Lionsgate, told Bloomberg. “We’re always exploring opportunities in China, it’s a growing content market, it’s a content market you have to be in.”
Indeed, the Chinese appetite for movies — notably from Hollywood — is growing exponentially, with theatrical revenue overtaking Japan to become the second-largest market after the United States, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.
And where there’s a theatrical market, home entertainment is sure to follow — albeit cautiously. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment China, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, Paramount Home Media Distribution, Miramax, Lionsgate, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment have begun licensing content to Chinese-based transactional video-on-demand and subscription VOD platforms.
Top-grossing Chinese movies are expected to rival U.S. films within five years, according to Dong Ping, chairman of Hong Kong-based ChinaVision Media, which helped produce 2001 Oscar winner Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
"For many youngsters in China, particularly those born in the 1980s and 1990s, going to the cinema is something very trendy and stylish,” Ping told the South China Morning Post.
Alibaba is attempting to bridge the gap to Amazon as a content provider. This spring the Hangzhou, China-based company made a $1.22 billion investment in OTT video service Youku Tudu, in addition to a $805 million investment in ChinaVision Media Group.
“We are committed to expanding our ecosystem where our users can meet, work and live,” Patrick Liu, president of Alibaba Group’s digital entertainment business, said in a statement.
Lionsgate already distributes content via Youku and ChinaVision.