Late last week, news broke that American subscription-based streaming video service Netflix is in talks with Jack Ma-backed Wasu Media Holding Company to bring Netflix to China. Netflix, the maker of popular original shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, has aspirations of being a global power, and it can hardly realize those without China’s billion-plus internet users. Netflix spokeswoman Anne Marie Squeo told reporters Netflix plans “to be nearly global by the end of 2016,” which implies a China launch could be coming soon.
Lenovo Group’s television unit will likely cooperate with Alibaba Group to jointly set up a joint-venture firm with other investors, and will introduce a brand-new smart television brand “17” beginning on May 20, our sister paper Want Daily reports, citing Chinese online media outlet Jiemian.com. Via the cooperation, Lenovo aims to transform itself in terms of internet operations, while keeping its existing supply chains and reputation as a renowned hardware manufacturer, according to an unnamed Lenovo executive.
HONG KONG, May 06, 2015 (PR Newswire Europe via COMTEX) — Letv Cloud Computing Co. Ltd., known as the No.1 video cloud computing brand and a neutral service provider, announced the launch of the worldwide VaaS (Video-as-a-Service) model in TV Connect event in London. In this Letv Cloud’s first global debut, it shows an upgraded and globalized version of VaaS model since it was invented in China in 2014. TV Connect, the world-leading event in the fields of OTT and IPTV, was held in London during April 28-30, 2015. Over 500 telecom operators, 200 exhibitors and about 8,500 professionals joined the event.
Japan’s online video market is expected to grow significantly starting the second half of 2015 when Netflix begins to offer its services, NTT DoCoMo launches its dTV Terminal program and the local top-five cable TV operators start offering free online video services, according to Digitimes Research. Wireless TV operators Nippon, Asahi, Tokyo, Fuji and TBS have been offering quality TV programs free of charge, making it difficult for cable TV operators to promote online paid video services.
Alibaba Group entered the film industry last year, having acquired ChinaVision Media Group and renamed it Alibaba Pictures Group and other related companies. On April 21, Alibaba Pictures announced it was acquiring Guangdong Yueke Software Engineering Company, a supplier of a cinema-ticketing system, through an open bidding for 830 million yuan (US$134 million), Guangzhou’s 21st Century Business Herald reports.
Access to a whole new range of streaming movie and TV content is one step closer to viewers in Southeast Asia, as internet media startup iFlix has successfully completed a US$30 million funding round. iFlix’s parent company Catcha Group and telco Philippines Long Distance Telephone Company led the round. The funds will be used towards the continued rollout of the service throughout Southeast Asian territories, as well as acquiring the rights to more content and producing original content.
Remember earlier this week when the venture arm of Japan’s DeNA made its premiere investment in Indonesia in the form of a US$1 million seed round for live-streaming entertainment site Zeemi.tv? 500 Startups participated in the investment also, and Zeemi founder Tom Damek now has the bragging right of grabbing one of the largest seed rounds on public record in the archipelago. Tech in Asia caught up with the principal of DeNA’s venture arm James Riney this morning in Jakarta.
Chinese video streaming site LeTV branched out into smartphones today with the launch of three models based at the high end of the market. At an event in Beijing, LeTV CEO Jia Yueting slammed phone makers as “arrogant” for charging consumers more than double what their phones cost to make. Apple came under fire in particular for offering what Jia called a “closed” software ecosystem allied with a business model that charges people well beyond what the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus cost in production.
China’s LeTV is best known for its popular online streaming platform, but in the past year the company has really been branching out. Within that timeframe it has moved into smartphones, film production, and electric cars. Now it’s moving into the music business too, having on Thursday announced the establishment of the LeTV Music Company in Hong Kong. LeTV Music, which will be headed by former LeTV entertainment boss Yin Liang, is aiming for China’s music market by way of vertical integration, since it already has the technology and internet platforms to distribute smoothly to most of the country.
China’s top online video company just released new data in its latest earnings report (for Q4 2014). In terms of eyeballs, Youku Tudou now gets 900 million video views each day – an all-time high that has tripled since October 2013. The company, which runs two video sites, Youku and Tudou, after their merger in 2012, didn’t disclose an updated figure for monthly unique visitors (that was 500 million back in Q2 2014), but a Youku representative tells Tech in Asia that the sites now get 150 million daily active users.
In a move that will have China-technology watchers shaking their heads in disbelief, American video website Netflix bravely plans to enter the Chinese market independently without cooperating with local companies. Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of Netflix, also said that the company plans to promote the Chinese-made content to the international market.
Netflix wants to come to China. That’s what Ted Sarandos, the company’s chief content officer, told reporters earlier this week in Shanghai. Breaking into the Chinese market is an aspiration of many Western companies, of course, but Netflix’s vision is a little different: it wants to go it alone. Sarandos told reporters that the usual model for launching a Western tech service in China – partnering with a local company for a joint venture – doesn’t much interest Netflix. Such ventures are, Sarandos said, “difficult to manage.”
Yesterday Google announced the launch of a standalone Chinese-language version of its Google Developers YouTube channel (h/t TechCrunch). The channel will feature original Chinese-language videos that instruct local developers how to integrate their software into Google’s ecosystem, as well as subtitled videos taken from the Google Developers channel. The video below, for example, explains how to register for a developer account on Google Play.
Chinese Internet video company Letv.com announced that they have established a new smart hardware development company named Leie. Leie will focus on the development of smart hardware to connect smartphones and smart TVs and establish a smart product ecosphere with content and applications focusing on health, entertainment, sports, and families.
Singapore’s leading telco Singtel has announced today that it will launch an online streaming video service in Asia. It’s a joint-venture with Sony Pictures and Warner Bros, and will bring Hollywood movies, television series, as well as local programming to audiences in Indonesia, India, Thailand, and the Philippines.
Youku Tudou, one of China’s biggest online video portals, today revealed its first ever hardware products. They include a wifi router, set-top box, and Android tablet. The first batch of new devices is part of Youku’s new Cloud Entertainment business unit, which is the company’s fourth major unit after Youku, Tudou, and Heyi Pictures. The lattermost was launched in August as Youku’s in-house production studio.
Xiaomi has confirmed it will invest US$300 million in Baidu-backed online video portal iQiyi for an undisclosed stake in the company, according to Techweb. The money is part of Xiaomi founder Lei Jun’s pledged US$1 billion to accelerate content acquisition. Lei’s personal fund also participated in the investment. Last week, the company also revealed it would invest an undisclosed amount into Youku Tudou, another leading video portal in China.
Streaming video service Netflix has announced it will launch services in Australia and New Zealand from March 2015. The long-rumoured launch was confirmed via a press release issued today, in the absence of any details around hosting or telco partnerships. Netflix pioneered on-demand subscription video services in 2007 in the United States, after expanding out of a physical DVD mailing service.
Chinese Internet video company Youku-Tudou announced that the company has added two new executives: Chief Product Officer Gu Sibin and Senior Vice President Li Jie. As chief product officer, Gu will be responsible for product strategy and operations to promote the group’s consumer-focused business. Gu is the first chief product officer since the founding of Youku-Tudou.
Youku Tudou Inc. (NYSE: YOKU), China’s leading Internet television company (“Youku Tudou” or the “Company”), today announced the addition of two members to its leadership team – Teddy Gu as Chief Product Officer, and Jerry Li as Senior Vice President. As Chief Product Officer, Teddy Gu will be responsible for the Group’s product strategy and operations, and drive the Group’s direct-to-consumer businesses. Teddy Gu has become Youku Tudou’s first CPO since its founding.