Youku licenses Korean, HK movies

CJ, Media Asia movies to stream in China, legally

Leading Chinese online video portal Youku said Friday it will stream hundreds of classic Hong Kong and Korean films on its movie channel in a bid to keep the interest of the worlds largest online population.

Since imported movies, cartoons and television are rarely shown on Chinese TV, the movement from television sets to Internet videos is happening faster in China than elsewhere as the nations 420 million -- mostly young -- web surfers demand greater variety.

Beijing-based Youku said it signed a strategic partnership with South Korean media powerhouse CJ Entertainment for more than 200 titles, and with Hong Kong's Media Asia for more than 100 titles.

Chinese movie fans for years have enjoyed such Media Asia hits as the "Infernal Affairs" trilogy and CJ hits such as "Joint Security Area."

Founded in 2006, Youku recently reported triple-digit annual revenue growth and recorded more than 200 million unique visitors to its site each month. The company boasts a 50% share
of China's online video market.

No financial terms of its agreement with CJ and Media Asia were disclosed.
In December, Chinese web portal Sohu and video sharing firm Ku6 established a $10 million fund to license Hollywood movies and television to show online.

Up until recently most of the imported video clips viewed on the Chinese Internet were pirated as websites tried to skirt Beijing's control of media imports and avoid paying license fees.

This month, Beijing agreed to a timetable for opening its markets in compliance with a World Trade Organization ruling that says China must loosen the states grip on the import and distribution of entertainment products.