One of our updates last week concerns the pace of Disney’s move to consolidate most of its massive media library in preparation for the launch of its exclusive streaming platform in 2019. Barring special cases like Marvel Netflix, everything Disney will soon be available only with the House of Mouse.
In China however, it’s another story. Western content providers most of the time must form partnerships with local media distributors to get their programming into the highly-regulated TV or internet landscape. This time, Disney is linking up with the entertainment division of Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. with a licensing agreement.
This deal for starters will make available the extensive animation content of the House of Mouse for streaming by Alibaba’s own Chinese-consumer platform Youku. The media group’s Monday press release elaborates on the multiyear license agreement that will funnel over 1,000 episodes’ worth of Disney animated programming into Youku’s library.
Having their content being held by the Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group via license can be seen as Disney’s second attempt to break into the Chinese streaming market. In 2016, they had collaborated with Alibaba to launch DisneyLife, only for Chinese regulators to close them just five months later.
Yang Weidong, president of Youku under the Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group umbrella, hailed the licensing agreement for enriching “the library of quality international content on Alibaba’s media and entertainment ecosystem.” He sees this as a means to ensure Alibaba’s dominance in China as their leading foreign content provider.
Aside from Disney, Youku also has similar agreements for content streaming with global heavyweight names like Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Television and NBC Universal among others. The Alibaba subsidiary has 580 million devices like set-top boxes in its network, and boasts a daily-view total of 1.2 billion.