Lionsgate Pacts With Alibaba for China Streaming Service

 Invision for the Hollywood Reporter/AP Images

Lionsgate and the Chinese e-commerce colossus Alibaba have signed a strategic collaboration to offer its titles in China, including Divergent and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and TV shows such as Mad Men, Weeds and The Royals.

Alibaba, in which Yahoo! has a stake, accounts for as much as 80 percent of e-commerce in China.

The movies and TV shows will be available through the Lionsgate Entertainment World (LGEW) service, a subscription streaming service for mainland China that will be available exclusively through Alibaba's latest generation of set-top box. The service is expected to launch in August.

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Alibaba, which is working on a New York IPO that could be the biggest tech listing in history, has been expanding rapidly into entertainment, including the registration of its film unit, Alibaba Film Group, in Hong Kong.

"We’re pleased to collaborate with Alibaba, a world-class brand that is well known and respected among consumers throughout China," Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said in a statement.

"Alibaba is the kind of entrepreneurial company with whom we like to be in business, and the launch of our streaming service in China underscores our commitment to innovation and leadership in delivering premium content to digital platforms around the world," he explained.

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The collaboration gives Lionsgate increased access to the vast mainland Chinese market, one of the largest and fastest-growing territories in the world for film and TV content.

Patrick Liu, president of Alibaba Group's digital entertainment business unit, said: "We are committed to expanding our ecosystem where our users can meet, work and live, and this cooperation signals our ongoing commitment to advance our vision of making digital media entertainment available to our customers anywhere, anytime."

David U. Lee, founder and president of Leeding Media, who has been involved in a number U.S.-Chinese media collaborations, helped broker the deal.

As well as providing access to Lionsgate titles, the new service will enable Alibaba subscribers to enjoy exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, features and other premium content not available anywhere else in China along with access to VIP membership benefits such as screening invitations and special merchandise.

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"The Lionsgate Entertainment World service will be distinguished not only by the breadth and depth of our content portfolio but our commitment to provide Chinese consumers with first-run films, television shows and behind-the-scenes experiences that aren’t available anywhere else in China," said Lionsgate president of worldwide television & digital distribution Jim Packer and Lionsgate co-chief operating officer Brian Goldsmith.

The Lionsgate Entertainment World service will stream in high-quality resolution (up to full HD) and offer content recommendations to Chinese viewers based on extensive curation and state-of-the-art technology.

Last year, Lionsgate pacted with Sid Ganis' Jiaflix Enterprises to extend its digital pipeline into China through the Chinese streaming website M1905.com, the online division of China Movie Channel and CCTV6.

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