YOU On Demand signs deal to gain Disney's library

Updated: 2012-02-24 13:17

By Huang Ying (China Daily)

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BEIJING -YOU On Demand Media has announced an agreement with Disney Media Distribution, the distribution arm of Walt Disney Co, to enrich its portfolio of Hollywood films.

The company is a joint venture between YOU On Demand Holdings Inc and China Home Cinema - the pay-TV arm of the State-run CCTV Channel 6.

According to the announcement, the video content provider - China's first national pay-per-view and subscription video-on-demand platform - will add Disney's extensive library of titles. The new offerings will range from current hits such as Cars 2 to classics such as The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, according to the statement.

"Disney films define quality family entertainment and we're thrilled that YOU On Demand will be their showcase to the world's largest television audience," said Shane McMahon, Chairman and CEO of YOU On Demand Holdings Inc, in a statement.

Disney's Chinese unit declined to comment on the partnership.

Started last year, the joint venture with China Home Cinema currently reaches about 3 million households.

The Chinese provider has also signed partnership agreements with other studios. Last week, it signed an agreement with Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. Meanwhile, in 2011 it signed a distribution agreement with CAV Warner Home Entertainment Co Ltd, Warner Bros Home Entertainment Group's joint venture in China, allowing the platform to provide movies to customers on a transactional basis and through its subscription service.

Although Chinese consumers haven't developed the habit of paying for video content through video-on-demand platforms, the market situation has improved in recent years. A number of domestic sites and content providers now increasingly provide the service, said Gao Shouzhi, executive vice-president of EntGroup Consulting Group, a Beijing-based domestic entertainment industry consultancy.

About 74 percent of audiences surveyed were willing to pay for video-on-demand services on video sites or TV channels, according to market research conducted by EntGroup.

"Premium content will play an important role in maintaining the target audience's adherence to providers of video-on-demand services," said Gao.

Previously, only about five Disney films annually obtained approval to access the fastest-growing movie market, and animated features account for at least two of the yearly total. Away from the big screen, Disney has been forced to seek cooperation with Chinese TV channels to import its films, insiders said.

Last week, China reached an agreement to expand its annual quota of imported US films from 20 to 34, of which 14 will be in premium formats, such as 3D and IMAX.