Alibaba’s video streaming platform Youku inks major deal with US production companies
YOUKU, the video streaming and hosting platform from China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba, announced major licensing deals with two US-based production outfits, NBCUniversal and Sony Pictures, as the firm focuses on dominating China’s lucrative video entertainment segment.
Under the deal, Youku users would be able to enjoy premium content from NBCUniversal and Sony Pictures Television’s catalog, including early access to several high-profile Hollywood productions such as Blade Runner 2049, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and other blockbusters, according to a Bloomberg report.
Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group Youku president Yang Weidong expressed his optimism about the new partnerships in a recent statement to China Money Network.
“By cooperating with NBCUniversal and Sony Pictures Television to show famous Hollywood films on our platform, we can bring richer global content into Alibaba’s entertainment ecosystem.
“I am confident that expanding our relationships with more international studios will further enhance our platform’s penetration into the home entertainment business and push the online video” and over-the-top businesses to greater heights,” Yang said, according to a CMN report.
Youku Tudou’s partnership with NBCUniversal and Sony Pictures Television comes at a time when the Alibaba-owned video streaming service is facing intense pressure from aggressive competitors in the video-on-demand market. Over the past few years, the Alibaba-owned firm has lost ground to rivals such as Tencent Holding Ltd. and Baidu.
“By cooperating with NBCUniversal and Sony Pictures Television to show famous Hollywood films on our platform, we can bring richer global content into Alibaba’s entertainment ecosystem,” Yang Weidong, the president of Alibaba’s Youku Entertainment branch.
“I am confident that expanding our relationships with more international studios will further enhance our platform’s penetration into the home entertainment business and push the online video and OTT (over the top) businesses to greater heights.”
Baidu’s iQiyi, for one, recently signed a contract with Netflix, gaining the rights to offer the American video streaming giant’s reality TV shows, animated shows, documentaries, and original TV Series to China. These aggressive collaborations have enabled iQiyi to dominate Youku and become the Asian economic superpower’s largest video content platform today. Tencent Video, another rival service, also overtook Youku to take its place right behind iQiyi.
There was a time when Youku Tudou was synonymous with video streaming in the Asian nation, however. Established in 2012 as a result of a merger between two online video companies, Youku, at one point, held one-third of the market share of China’s video streaming industry. By 2016, Youku Tudou became prolific enough to catch the eye of Alibaba, which acquired the merged video streaming firms in a massive US$4 billion takeover.
Since then, however, it has largely been uphill for Youku Tudou. Apart from losing its pole position in the video streaming race in the country, the firm has also posted an operating loss of US$500 million during the first quarter of Alibaba’s financial year.