A licensing deal was struck between Alibaba Digital Media which is the Alibaba Group’s entertainment unit and Buena Vista International, the Walt Disney subsidiary which handles all its worldwide content distribution.
This deal gives Alibaba the right to show a significant chunk of Disney’s animated series and owned videos on Youku, which is a streaming service it runs along with any other platform it feels is apt.
This handshake involves over 1,000 episodes from well known Disney series as well as an extensive repertoire of Disney movies making Alibaba now the largest Disney animated content distributor in all of China.
Significant titles in this deal include popular Disney series such as “DuckTales” and “My Friends Tigger and Pooh” of which the rights 600 episodes will belong exclusively to Alibaba for the first two years of the deal.
In the live action and animated movies end, Alibaba has acquired rights to more than 100 titles, prominent ones among them are “Mulan,” “Frozen” and the all-time classic “Beauty and the Beast.”
Incidentally, this deal comes after two years of Disney’s streaming service; DisneyLife stopped its China operations.
The service had a brief life of 6 months after its launch and was pulled out thanks to Chinese regulations on foreign entities operating in the country. The entire operation went south thanks to the announcement by the Chinese government that foreign MNCs would need to have their approval before publishing any online content.
Alibaba issued a press release informing on the deal and said that Youku and its other OTT platforms together will provide Disney content from now on to 30 million Chinese households.
Youku president Yang Weidong mentioned, “The addition of Disney content greatly enriches the library of quality international content on Alibaba’s media and entertainment ecosystem, giving us a leading edge in foreign content distribution in China.”