The service will be called Tmall Box Office (TBO) and will source its content from various production companies, both local and international. The company also plans to produce original films in-house.
Patrick Liu, Alibaba’s head of digital entertainment, addressed the press in Shanghai last Sunday to officially announce the news. “Our mission, the mission of all of Alibaba, is to redefine home entertainment,” Liu stated. “Our goal is to become like HBO in the United States, to become like Netflix in the United States.”
Reuters reports that around 90 percent of TBO’s content may be accessed through either a monthly subscription or a per-show basis. Only 10 percent will be available for free.
There are already a number of video streaming services available in Asia that provide Netflix-like perks. (One company even went so far as to name its platform almost exactly the same way.) However, these services may not even be strong enough to hurt Alibaba’s constant rise to success.
While the effects of Alibaba’s reported purchase of a 16.5 percent stake in Youku—China’s biggest video streaming platform—on the group’s plans for TBO remains to be seen, the company’s dominance in the online shopping industry could easily propel its plans to mimic Netflix’s U.S. success and quickly produce a steady stream of early adopters, provided that Netflix itself does not make it to a Chinese audience.