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In a significant development, Alibaba has inked a deal with Lionsgate studio to stream popular U.S. movies and TV shows including “Twilight” and “Mad Men” in China.
The subscription-based service will be launched in August and offer through Alibaba’s Internet television set-top box. Some Lionsgate (LGF) offerings are already available in China through other partnerships, but Alibaba’s customers will have access to behind-the-scenes footage. The officials of the company described it as a window into Hollywood and into how these movies and TV shows get made. The company is yet to announce subscription fees.
Meanwhile, Alibaba is preparing for a New York IPO that could be the largest in U.S. history.
The Hangzhou-based firm has been expanding its portfolio to boost its digital entertainment options, acquiring stakes in top Chinese streaming video and content companies.
Alibaba’s strategy mirrors that of Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) — another Internet retailer that has moved aggressively into steaming video, and even television production.
U.S. shows including “The Walking Dead” and “House of Cards” are among the biggest hits, racking up tens of millions of views.
So far, the nascent Web streaming industry has largely managed to escape regulatory scrutiny.