Alibaba and Disney have signed a major licensing deal, which was announced in a press release this morning. It includes the distribution and streaming rights to more than 1,000 episodes from Disney animated shows, as well as many of its films (live action movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and animated classics like Mulan). The Disney products will be streamed on Alibabas VOD service Youku and on any other platforms it determines, making Alibaba the primary distributor of Disney content in China. According to Alibaba, the streaming service reaches 580 million devices per day, and this licensing deal is similar to those it already has in place with Warner Bros., Paramount, Fox, NBCUniversal, and others. Its been a little under two years since Disneys streaming service DisneyLife stopped working in China. The Mickey-Mouse-head-shaped gadget was basically a Google Chromecast, and it included a TV and film library, Disney music, ebooks, Disney vacation planning, as well as a merch store. It was announced in December 2015 as a major partnership between Disney and Alibaba but was reportedly squashed by Chinese regulators after five months.
Alibaba Groups entertainment unit has signed a major licensing deal to show many of Disneys animated series and movies on Youku, its streaming video service, and other distribution channels. The agreement covers more than 1,000 episodes from Disney series, as well as many of its films, and means Alibaba is now the largest distributor of Disney animations in China. The licensing deal was made between Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group and Buena Vista International, the Walt Disney Company business that handles worldwide distribution for its shows and movies. It covers series like DuckTales and My Friends Tigger and Pooh and makes 600 episodes exclusive to Alibabas distribution channels for the first two years of the deal. Alibaba also got licensing rights to more than 100 live-action and animated Disney films, including Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, Frozen and Pirates of the Caribbean. Disneys new partnership with Alibaba comes nearly two years after its streaming video service, DisneyLife, stopped operating in China just five months after launching there, reportedly at the behest of Chinese regulators. Disney also teamed up with Alibaba to offer DisneyLife in China, but one factor in its closure may have been the fact that its launch coincided with the enactment of new laws that require foreign companies to gain government approval before publishing online content. Alibaba said in a press announcement that Youku and the other OTT platforms it will distribute Disney animations on will cover about 30 million households. In the release, Youku president Yang Weidong said The addition of Disney content greatly enriches the library of quality international content on Alibabas media and entertainment ecosystem, giving us a leading edge in foreign content distribution in China.