Like Tencent, Alibaba has an ambition in seizing Chinese people’s leisure time.
On September 19, Alibaba’s Digital Media and Entertainment Group (阿里巴巴文化娱乐集团) announced the founding of its live entertainment business group (阿里文娱现场娱乐事业群) to step up in ticketing, content creation, and live experience. The three roles will be assumed by Damai, MaiLive, and Maizuo respectively. Damai is one of China’s largest event ticketing platforms and was fully acquired by Alibaba this March. MaiLive and Maizuo will work on supporting content partners and leveraging Alibaba’s data capability for offline shows.
The live show business is one piece to the entertainment empire Alibaba is trying to build that will help the titan go beyond e-commerce. The transition started around 2014 with a series of acquisitions including mobile browser UCWeb, music streaming platform Xiami, video streaming portal Youku Tudou, and Daimai. The giant’s movie affiliate Alibaba Pictures, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, has formed a strategic partnership with Amblin Partners, the Hollywood content company led by Steven Spielberg.
“To put it simply, our mission is to allow those who have fun shopping at Alibaba to truly live at Alibaba,” said Yu Yongfu, chairman and CEO of Alibaba’s Digital Media and Entertainment Group. “So in addition to shopping, we would like them to spend more time watching videos with us, getting information from us and listening to music with us, to come and game with us, among many other things.”
Tencent, which is best known for its ubiquitous social messaging app WeChat, has a similarly voracious appetite for entertainment. It has evolved into a globally dominant game publisher and its music affiliate claims over 75% of China’s online music streaming market. One day before Alibaba rolled out its live show business group, Tencent announced its roadmaps for 43 films and television projects. The competition in entertainment will—as in their battle for digital payment—be neck-to-neck again for the two Chinese internet giants.