Skip to Content

Alibaba to open streaming video service in China

Alibaba plans to launch its own Netflix-like streaming video service in China within months, a company executive told reporters in Shanghai over the weekend.

The planned Tmall Box Office or TBO service, will offer programming from third-party providers as well as its own original content, according to a Reuters report, citing comments by Patrick Liu, president of Alibaba (BABA) Group’s digital entertainment business unit.

The service, due in two months, will be offered via Alibaba’s own set-top devices and smart TVs, according to Bloomberg. Tmall is an e-commerce site hosted by Alibaba. The goal is to offer a Netflix-like experience in China, Liu said.

It will not have the market to itself. E-commerce rival Tencent Holdings(TCEHY), search giant Baidu (BIDU) and other companies are already investing heavily in their own streaming services in China, and U.S.-based Netflix (NFLX) is also weighing a move into China.

And, this isn’t even Alibaba’s first effort here. The company took an 18.5% stake in Youku Tudou, a video streaming company. It’s not clear how the proposed streaming service fits in with that.

The news comes days after Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma visited the U.S. to woo small domestic businesses to use Alibaba to break into the Chinese market. That business is seen as a competitor to Amazon (AMZN). Alibaba’s Aliyun unit also offers cloud services similar to Amazon Web Services.