Alibaba’s Streaming Video Subscription Service Rolls Out In China

Alibaba’s unlimited video streaming subscription platform, Tmall Box Office (TBO), is now available for some users of its smart TV operating system in China. Tech In Asia spotted TBO’s new homepage, which gives viewers access to Chinese and foreign shows and movies starting at RMB 39 (about $6.10) for a month’s subscription.

Plans for TBO, which is meant to be the Chinese version of Netflix, were first announced in June. Like Netflix, TBO plans to stream a mixture of third-party shows and original content produced by Alibaba, which operates a film studio called Alibaba Pictures Group.

Streaming video is extremely popular in China, but most consumers are used to seeing shows and movies for free. In fact, based on recent numbers, Youku Tudou and iQiyi, the two top video streaming sites in China, have each only managed to convert one percent of their total viewers into paying subscribers.

Aside from the quality of its streaming video, TBO’s main competitive advantage may be its original content. Alibaba’s entertainment holdings also include Guangdong Yueke, one of China’s largest movie ticket platforms, which gives it valuable insight into what kind of things consumers are willing to pay money to see.

In a statement, an Alibaba Group representative said “The Tmall Box Office is in a beta launch phase and it has been rolled out on certain models of the Tmall Box. Alibaba Group is committed to providing high-quality and engaging content to users on a variety of devices to meet their entertainment needs.”