Alibaba looking to expand Hollywood content offering

Alibaba looking to expand Hollywood content offering
Alibaba Group founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma speaking at the Asia Game Changer Awards on October 16, 2014.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is looking to expand its entertainment content offering on its Internet television set-top boxes through deals with studios in the United States, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Alibaba Group executives are meeting with content providers, such as Walt Disney Co, Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures, Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros, Sony Corp and Comcast Corp's Universal. The company is seeking deals that will provide it with the rights to distribute US movies and TV shows in China, or invest in a stake, the report said. Alibaba executives declined to comment.

Alibaba's chairman, billionaire Jack Ma, will be in Los Angeles next week for the WSJDLive technology conference and will be meeting with several media companies in the city, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Hangzhou-based Alibaba, whose September initial public offering ranked as the world's biggest at $25 billion (S$31.8 billion), is looking to move beyond traditional e-commerce, offering more digital products like films, games and television.

Since the beginning of the year, Alibaba has aggressively pushed to sell entertainment content to Chinese consumers through its set-top boxes, which also allow consumers to shop from Alibaba's website.

In July, Alibaba signed a deal with Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, the studio behind the "Hunger Games" films, to launch a subscription streaming service in China. In March, Alibaba bought a controlling stake in ChinaVision Media Group, a film and television content producer, for $804 million. And in April it bought an 18.5 per cent stake in Chinese online video streaming site Youku Tudou Inc in partnership with affiliated private equity company Yunfeng Capital. Alibaba's Ma is among Yunfeng Capital's founders .

Alibaba has invested more than $3 billion since March in the entertainment industry.

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