Streaming service Tencent scored the Chinese rights first six “Star Wars movies from The Walt Disney Company, but Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba Group is getting a bigger piece of the Mouse House’s digital content pie in the country.
Today, Alibaba announced that it is teaming with the Burbank, Ca.,-based entertainment giant to launch DisneyLife, an over-the-top system combining family-friendly video content and ecommerce, featuring a collection of Disney and Pixar films, animation series, games, e-books, songs, travel services and Disney theme parks and resorts information.
The service is bundled with aMickey Mouse-themed device that is available for pre-order via Alibaba’s ecommerce site Tmall.com starting today. Priced at $125 USD, it comes bundled with a one-year subscription to the DisneyLife base package.
Alibaba is making a big bet on the online video space with its $3.67 billion all-cash purchase of streaming service Youku Tudou, which was finalized last month. Youku Tudou has competitors in the streaming video space in China, including iQIYI and the aforementioned Tencent, but they lack Alibaba’s mammoth ecommerce infrastructure. Its power is exemplified by Alibaba’s seventh annual Single’s Day, its self-created shopping holiday that the romantically unattached celebrate by buying themselves gifts, which raked in $14.3 billion in 24 hours last month.
Alibaba is not using Youku Tudou as a conduit for DisneyLife. All content on the new platform is being delivered via Wasu Media Network Co. Ltd. Subscribers will be able to purchase Disney merchandise, as well as obtain information about and schedule a visit to Hong Kong Disneyland, as well as Shanghai Disney Resort when opens in 2016. Shoppers will also be able to access other Alibaba products and services.
Western entertainment companies such as Disney have long been looking for ways to get a foothold in China, which has a population of 1.357 potential customers, but is rife with piracy and complicated by a myriad of strict government regulations.
A version of DisneyLife launched in the U.K. in October, and the service is expected to roll-out around the globe early next year starting in France, Spain, Italy and Germany.