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Alibaba deal brings DisneyLife to China

A month after bringing its DisneyLife OTT service to UK preschoolers and their parents, Disney is set to deliver the same streaming experience to Chinese viewers, following a deal with Alibaba's digital entertainment unit.
December 15, 2015

A month after bringing its DisneyLife over-the-top service to UK preschoolers and their parents, Disney is set to deliver the same streaming experience to Chinese viewers.

Disney has signed a multi-year agreement with Alibaba’s digital entertainment business unit to launch the DisneyLife service in China.  The Mickey-Mouse-shaped OTT device (which functions much like a Playstation or Xbox) is now available for presale on Alibaba’s Tmall website for US$125. The price includes a one-year subscription to the DisneyLife base package, which includes hundreds of Disney and Pixar hit feature films, including Frozen (pictured), Cinderella, The Lion King, Toy Story, Cars and The Incredibles.

The service also give subscribers access to Disney’s classic kid-focused collection of animated series, including Sofia the First, Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and My Friends Tigger and Pooh, in addition to games, eBooks and songs.

As the world’s largest e-commerce site – at least by merchandise volume – Alibaba isn’t missing the opportunity to weave in a retail component.  In addition to the streaming options, DisneyLife subscribers can shop Alibaba products and services. Customers can also use the device to help them plan visits to Hong Kong Disneyland, as well as the Shanghai Disney Resort when it opens in 2016. 

DisneyLife is still fresh from its launch in the UK, where the service is sold as an iOS and Android app for US$15 per month.  Like its competitors, such as top-grossing iPhone app Hopster, the Disney service is designed to be used on-the-go and allows users to download content for later viewing.

Disney execs have previously stated the company intends to roll out DisneyLife to more European markets. (Currently, the app supports five languages: English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.) No plans are currently in place for the US and Canadian market, where Disney has first-run theatrical pacts with SVOD giant Netflix.

In September, Disney struck a deal with Alibaba streaming competitor Tencent to distribute to China’s digital viewers the six-episode Star Wars franchise — from A New Hope, which bowed in 1977, to 2005′s Revenge of the Sith. The Tencent Star Wars hub was created in the wake of a deal between Disney and 20th Century Fox that allows the company (which operates a platform similiar to Facebook) to be the exclusive transactional VOD and subscription VOD online provider in mainland China for the complete epic. The move was intended to build momentum in the world’s second-largest movie market ahead of the release of its latest installment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which opens in theaters this month.

From Stream. 

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