Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce behemoth, has often been called the “Amazon of China.” Like Amazon, Alibaba has been aggressively expanding beyond simple e-commerce–the company has invested in ride-sharing, smartphones, entertainment, Snapchat, and more in the past year. Why not take on the video streaming industry next?
Alibaba revealed Sunday that it is planning to launch a streaming platform inspired by Netflix and HBO. Tmall Box Office–TBO, if you will–is set to debut within the next two months and will feature original productions as well as content purchased from China and abroad.
“Our mission, the mission of all of Alibaba, is to redefine home entertainment,” head of digital entertainment Patrick Liu announced at a press conference, according to Reuters. “Our goal is to become like HBO in the United States, to become like Netflix in the United States.” Liu added that about 10% of the service’s content would be available for free, with the rest offered behind a paywall–either through a monthly fee or on a show-by-show basis.
Alibaba’s move into online video comes at a time when Netflix is attempting to inch its way into the $5.9 billion Chinese market. As the Wall Street Journal reported last month, Netflix is currently in talks with broadcasting companies BesTV and Wasu, though issues of censorship and geo-blocking may keep it from bringing its content to Chinese audiences anytime soon. Now, with Alibaba in the mix–as well as the continuing success of Internet company Tencent–Netflix will find it hard to move the needle in China.