Netflix has announced it will be entering four new Asian markets in early 2016, including South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The company launched its Asia presence in Japan this month.
The U.S.-based subscription streaming service has effectively traced a line through China’s eastern and southern neighbors, though plans to enter the mainland itself are still frustratingly vague. The company has hinted that is will be seeking partners, but has made no concrete statement. One reason for their hesitation could be the intense competition posed by new entrants in the industry.
Earlier this month, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba rolled out its own subscription-based streaming service, TBO, short for ‘Tmall Box Office’. The service costs 39 RMB per month ($6.08 USD) or 365 RMB per year ($57 USD).
While TBO is still in its infancy as a beta product, it has the right parent company to succeed. Alibaba has made a series of high profile film and entertainment partnerships this year. In early July they struck a deal with Chinese film company DMG and Hunan TV to package the first ever bundle subscription service in China, integrating the service with their Tmall platform.
TBO could also see benefits from some of the partnerships established under Alibaba Pictures, the official media and entertainment arm of Alibaba group, established early this year. Recently the entertainment group led an undisclosed investment in Paramount Pictures’ ‘Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation’.
Despite their global strength, Netflix lacks the industry roots of Alibaba in China. Netflix sold the rights to air their hit series House of Cards to the streaming arm of internet portal Sohu this year, though they have remained tight lipped on a possible entry partner for the company itself.
Other entertainment streaming services, including Spotify and Apple music, have also skirted China, aiming for its less-complex Asian neighbors.
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