Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., China’s largest e-commerce company, has signed a content deal with Lions Gate Entertainment Inc., the production company behind such hit movie franchises as “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games,” to create a TV subscription streaming service to Chinese consumers.
The Lionsgate Entertainment World service set to launch next month will be available to Chinese consumers who own an Alibaba set-top box that connects televisions to the Internet. Alibaba introduced the device, called Wasu Rainbow, last fall. It retails for about $65 and lets consumers stream web content to their televisions, pay bills using Alipay—Alibaba’s PayPal-like payment service—and shop some Alibaba e-commerce sites.
Alibaba and Lionsgate did not disclose the terms of their deal or the price for the subscription service. “We are thrilled to be collaborating with Lionsgate to offer this new content streaming service and deliver high quality, entertaining and relevant TV shows and movies to our users,” says Patrick Liu, president of Alibaba’s digital entertainment business unit.
In adding a streaming video service, Alibaba is following the lead of the leader in U.S. online retailing, Amazon.com Inc. Amazon’s Amazon Prime service—a $99-a-year program that gives Amazon shoppers two-day free shipping on their orders, access to free e-books and other benefits—includes video streaming.
Alibaba is No. 1 in the 2014 China 500. For more on Alibaba’s growth ambitions in the lead up to its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, read the article “Dominant, but hungry” from the June 2014 issue of Internet Retailer magazine.