Alibaba wants to create China's HBO and Netflix equivalent

 
Joe Hall
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Alibaba founder Jack Ma (Source: Getty)

Alibaba is releasing a Netflix-style streaming service in two months, the firm's head of digital entertainment revealed today.

The service will be called Tmall Box Office - "TBO" for short - and will feature Alibaba-produced content as well as programming acquired from China and other territories.

Read more: Alibaba Pictures share price tumbles following $1.6bn placement

Alibaba's head of digital entertainment Patrick Liu explained:

Our mission, the mission of all of Alibaba, is to redefine home entertainment. Our goal is to become like HBO in the United States, to become like Netflix in the United States.

Liu added that a small percentage of the content will be free with the rest costing a subscription fee.

The ecommerce giant is increasingly pooling resources and efforts into growing its entertainment businesses and has said it will transfer a number of its technologies from its main business to the separately listed Alibaba Pictures in Hong Kong.

Last year Alibaba paid $1.2bn for a 16.5 per cent stake in Chinese streaming service Youku Tudou, and has used its crowd sourcing platform Yule Bao to fund big Chinese movies.

Earlier today Hollywood trade magazine Variety reported that the firm was even looking into the possibility of Yule Bao users being able to invest in Hollwood film productions.

China's 600m internet users and 1.3bn population represent a huge potential audience for any successful streaming service however, Alibaba will face competition from other online giants such as Tencent, and Baidu.

Netflix is reportedly considering a move into the market, yet could come unstuck by China's strict limit on foreign content on Chinese video sites that has already led to a number of programmes being banned.

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