Lionsgate, Alibaba form streaming joint venture

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US mini-studio Lionsgate and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba have joined forces to launch Lionsgate Entertainment World (LGEW), a subscription streaming service for mainland China that will be available exclusively through Alibaba’s set-top box. 

LGEW will provide users of Alibaba’s platform with access to Hollywood blockbusters such as the first installment in the Divergent franchise and several titles from the Twilight Saga franchise.

In addition, TV series including The Royals, which is expected to debut early next year on E!; Nashville, entering its third season on ABC; and the recent miniseries Rosemary’s Baby for NBC, will receive their Chinese premieres on the Alibaba platform. The service will also stream hit series such as Emmy Award-winner Mad Men and critically-acclaimed comedy Weeds.

After launch, the service’s content will be expanded to include titles such as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the next installment, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.

David U. Lee, founder and president of Leeding Media and an active buyer of films for distribution in China, helped establish the joint venture.

“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,” said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer.

“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,” said Patrick Liu, president of Alibaba Group’s digital entertainment business unit.

In addition to streaming films and TV shows, the LGEW service will offer behind-the-scenes footage and other premium content not currently available in China, along with access to VIP membership benefits such as screening invitations and special merchandise.

Alibaba, which is gearing up for a New York listing that could value the company at $130bn, has recently made a string of film and media acquisitions, including a controlling shareholding in production outfit ChinaVision Media and stakes in video site Youku Tudou and internet TV company Wasu Media.