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Netflix has acquired its first online drama series produced in mainland China.
The U.S. entertainment giant unveiled a deal Thursday with Youku Tudou, the flagship streaming video service of Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group, for worldwide rights outside of China to Day and Night, a 32-episode detective drama series.
Critically praised and commercially huge in China, the show has generated more than four billion views on Youku since its local online premiere on Aug. 30.
Day and Night follows the investigation of a grisly unsolved murder. The police detective in charge is recused from the case when it is revealed that his twin brother is the top suspect. Spurned by the suspension, the detective then quits his job — only to be recruited by the new lead investigator as a secret consultant. The title is a reference to the dual but often uncertain identities of the two brothers — one ostensibly righteous by day, the other allegedly evil at night. Directed by Wei Wang, the series stars Yueming Pan as both brothers.
Netflix plans to make Day and Night available in all of the 190-plus countries and regions where it is active.
“We are proud to partner with Netflix in this ground-breaking distribution agreement,” said Yang Weidong, president of Youku, Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group. “The cultural industry is undergoing robust growth in China, and I believe the export of high-quality content will help people around the world gain a better understanding of the soft power of China. I’m delighted that Youku can become a pioneer in driving this initiative.”
Netflix has been unable to launch its own services within the massive mainland Chinese entertainment market because of Beijing’s restrictions on foreign-owned media channels in the country. Instead, the company has turned to licensing deals in both directions. Last April, Netflix sold the local streaming rights to a batch of its originals to Beijing-based video service iQiyi.
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