Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce behemoth, today announced the launch of a new, Netflix/HBO like video streaming service named TBO (yeah, they seemingly took it from HBO).
Tmall Box Office, (which is again unsurprisingly similar to HBO’s Home Box Office) the name convention that Alibaba awarded to its video streaming service, would buy content from production houses in China and other countries, as well as create movies in-house as an offering to its users.
Alibaba, with its new video streaming service intends to replicate the success that Netflix and HBO garnered in the US and European marlkets.
Patrick Liu, president of Alibaba’s digital entertainment group, said at a seminar in Shanghai said-
Our mission, the mission of all of Alibaba, is to redefine home entertainment. Our goal is to become like HBO in the United States, to become like Netflix in the United States.
Clearly, Alibaba is working towards replicating an already successful model. The service will be offered through Alibaba’s set-top box and smart televisions manufactured by Haier.
However, only about 10 percent of TBO’s content would be free, while the remaining 90 percent would have to be purchased or require a subscription.
The news comes right at a time when Netflix was eying it’s expansion into Chinese perimeters. Alibaba’s move could intensify competition in a market already crowded by Baidu Inc’s,Tencent Holdings, iQiyi and Sohu.com.
Being a home grown network, Alibaba enjoys a number of advantages over Netflix in the region. It has, over time, established a good name for itself along with a strong market position, which would make it much easier to solicit subscriptions.
Furthermore, it won’t be a tedious task for Alibaba to garner necessary licenses from the Chinese government, something which obviously isn’t the easiest of tasks for foreign brands looking for Chinese expansion.