Disney And Alibaba’s Youku Sign Licensing Deal For Animation Shows

Chinese online retail giant Alibaba and U.S. media and entertainment giant Walt Disney have inked a licensing deal which will see animation series from the latter become available on the Youku online video streaming service owned by the former. The multi-year agreement was signed by a unit of Disney, Buena Vista International, and Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group.

Besides subscribers of the Youku streaming service, Chinese households numbering nearly 30 million who use the set-top boxes of Alibaba as well as SmartTV platforms will access the Disney content. Episodes numbering over 1,000 are expected to be streamed on Youku. Besides the television shows Disney films such as Mulan, Frozen, Beauty and the Beast, and Pirates of the Caribbean are also part of the deal.

More international content

“We look forward to further cooperation with global entertainment companies, which will help increase our penetration in the family entertainment segment and strengthen Youku’s position as a leading multi-screen entertainment and media platform in China,” Youku’s president, Yang Weidong, said in a statement.

Other U.S. entertainment companies that Youku has previously struck licensing deals with include NBCUniversal, Fox, Paramount and Warner Bros. Youku also has a licensing deal with Sony Pictures Television. Last year in November Youku inked a licensing agreement with Netflix allowing its subscribers to view the show Day and Night on its platform. Per Alibaba, about 580 devices are reached by Youku daily and this translates to about 1.2 billion views.

Joint venture

Two years ago Walt Disney and Alibaba launched a joint venture known as DisneyLife which gave the Chinese online access to content from the media and entertainment giant. However regulators shut down DisneyLife after months after launch. Last year in May Walt Disney set up an online store on the Alibaba-owned e-commerce website, Tmall, to sell its merchandise in China.

The deal with Youku comes at a time when Walt Disney is preparing to unveil an online video streaming service in the United States as consumers increasingly abandon traditional cable and satellite services for platforms such as Netflix. The chief executive officer of Walt Disney, Bob Iger, has indicated that the planned online streaming platform won’t be expensive to start since the media and entertainment giant already has lots of existing content.

Alibaba’s licensing agreement with Disney coincides with the Chinese online retail giant acquiring a 15% in retail firm Easyhome as it expands on its ‘click and mortar’ retailing strategy. Easyhome has a total of 223 brick and mortar stores in China.

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