China's LeTV Unveils $4.8M Investment Plan for Hong Kong Video Market
LeTV is the biggest of the top five in China's online video market, which also includes Tencent Video, Sohu.com, Youku Tudou and iQiyi.
Chinese video content provider LeTV has announced a $4.8 billion investment plan and development blueprint for the Hong Kong video entertainment market.
The investment is expected to include the purchase of video content copyright, drama and program production, product production costs, customer service and hotline center operation, and e-commerce operation, the group said in a statement.
LeTV said the investment would "enrich its Internet entertainment platform, bringing a transformative experience to traditional TV viewers and revolutionizing the local TV industry."
Last week, LeTV said it would issue 200 million new shares to raise $1.2 billion to bankroll several new projects, including the building of an online video resource library.
The private entertainment company, whose LeVision Pictures film unit is a growing force in production, said in April that it would launch a smartphone, and would link up with directors Zhang Yimou, Tsui Hark and Zheng Xiaolong to boost its content.
LeTV has partnered with BBC and Sanlih Entertainment Television, and entered deals with suppliers such as Golden Scene, Pegasus, China Star Entertainment, Celestial Movies, Orange Sky by Golden Harvest, Fortune Star Entertainment and My Way Film.
The group is also in what it described as "keen discussions" with major Hollywood studios to purchase copyright of their films and TV dramas.
"Additionally, LeTV is currently advancing a scheme for local drama production in Hong Kong, with a plan to shoot five more Hong Kong dramas that cater to local audience preferences," the statement said.
The group cited a survey, Video program viewing habits of Hong Kong people, which was conducted in January 2015 with 401 respondents, to show that only half of the respondents watch TV or video programs during traditional “primetime,” but as much as 49 percent of the respondents prefer watching videos-on-demand (VOD).
The survey also found that 53 percent of respondents prefer to watch programs-on-demand that can fit around their schedules and allow more flexibility.
In January, CEO Jia Yueting said he expected revenues to more than double in 2015. As well as entertainment and the smartphone, LeTV is also developing its smart TV business and working on an electric car.
Last year, the company was blighted by rumors of links to a high-level corruption investigation in the coal-rich province of Shanxi, which Jia seems to have shrugged off, although he admitted that an early investor was a company linked to the graft probe.
LeTV's revenues were $1.6 billion in 2014 and last year, LeVision produced The Expendables 3 and the Zhang Yimou movie Coming Home. It also has a stake in the Tiny Times franchise and is also involved in John Woo's recently launched epic, The Crossing.
LeVision has plans for "an expansive development slate" that will utilize top-flight talent from Hollywood and China to create $100 million-plus tentpoles for the global marketplace.
In October, LeVision set up an office in L.A. and said it would bankroll its Hollywood campaign with a $200 million film fund to make blockbusters.
LeVision has also picked up its first U.S. project, an epic fantasy adventure titled 8 Immortals, inspired by Chinese mythology from the writer Jeremy Breslau, the first in its plan to make China-Hollywood blockbuster co-productions.
LeVision Pictures USA plans to attach a high-profile Hollywood director and partner with a major studio for what will be an English-language Chinese-American co-production.