By Evan DeSimone
NBCUniversal has signed a multi-year deal with China’s Alibaba that will see Universal Pictures entire new release slate and back catalog made available on TMall Box Office, the ecommerce giant’s subscription VOD service.
Among Universal’s major new releases are international blockbusters like “Jurassic World,” “Fast & Furious 7” and “Fifty Shades of Grey,” all of which were major hits in the international market. That’s same international market in which China plays an increasingly large role. China’s boxoffice grew 34% last year, hitting $4.8 billion as more Chinese consumers enter the middle class and demand for entertainment media continues to rise. The deal also include NBCUniversa’ls extensive back catalog of films, giving the recently-launched TMall Box Office a deep bench of content to draw on.
The news comes after a summer of major expansions for NBCUniversal, which has been actively forging new partnerships in the digital space both in the US and abroad. Just last month the media giant sank $200 million into digital media outlet Buzzfeed and another $200 million into Vox . Its latest content partnership with Alibaba will give the company access to a large and growing market of hungry eyes access to more digital video.
NBCUniversal content will join TMall’s growing library of original content. Alibaba’s content studio, Alibaba Pictures, recently announced a dive into original films, including a slate of films from Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai. Alibaba is also financing two original films, “Three Lives Three Worlds” and “Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms.” starring Liu Yifei and directed by Zhang Yibai.