Alibaba Group announced Tuesday a strategic partnership (in Chinese) with its nearly half-owned film unit Alibaba Pictures, in a move widely seen as an attempt by the e-commerce giant to integrate its cultural and entertainment resources.
Alibaba Group, aggressive in seeking new growth engines amid the country’s economic slowdown, has been ramping up efforts to make inroads into the country’s entertainment industry in recent years.
The e-commerce giant consolidated some of its businesses and established a new cultural and entertainment group last year, with former UCWeb CEO Yu Yongfu at the helm. The new group is composed of Alibaba Pictures, Youku-Tudou, web browser UCWeb, Alibaba music, as well as the group’s literature, sports, gaming and the digital and music business units.
The new media group has become a cash cow for Alibaba Group, after e-commerce and cloud computing. According to the fiscal Q2 2017 report released last November (in Chinese), the cultural and entertainment group saw its revenue triple to RMB 3.61 billion from the previous year, recording the fastest growth among the company’s all segments.
Under the recent agreement, Hong Kong-listed Alibaba Pictures will set up an artists agency with Alibaba Group’s fully owned video streaming subsidiary Youku-Tudou.
Alibaba Pictures will team up with Youku-Tudou and Alibaba Literature to produce online films. In addition, Heyi Pictures, a film production firm owned by Youku Tudou, will be integrated into Alibaba Pictures.
Heyi Pictures has made investments in around 40 films since it was founded in August 2014. The tie-up will all give Alibaba Pictures an edge in content production and facilitate the development of Alibaba Group’s entertainment unit.
Moreover, the tie-up will better integrate various segments in Alibaba’s media group, allowing Alibaba Pictures to gain exclusive first rights for early content owned by Youku-Tudou and the e-commerce giant’s literature and gaming units. Youku-Tudou will have exclusive distribution and investment rights on copyrighted content owned by Alibaba Pictures.