Chinese online video giant Youku (NYSE:YOKU) today announced that it has inked a deal with none other than Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment to license 250 films. The movies will be shown on Youku’s Premium on-demand platform which launched last year. The company’s vice president of movie operations and corporate development, Huilong Zhu, explained:
We have been working closely with Hollywood studios in providing quality content to millions of Chinese Internet users while effectively protecting intellectual properties… We are encouraged by the growth of the Youku Premium platform, and our new licensing agreement with Fox will make Youku Premium more compelling for our users.
Many of Youku’s premium offerings are integrated into its movie page , with a small ‘paid’ badge on the top corner of the title if it isn’t free. Wisely though, Youku allows users to watch the first five minutes of a paid movie for free. The company says that its pay-per-view transactions “more than tripled between Q2 and Q3 of 2011,” with Youku Premium users paying more than once a month for content.
Chinese video sites like Youku started out with huge amounts of unlicensed content, and much of their popularity springs from this. But now that many of them have gone public (or intend to go public), video sites have cleaned up their act, bringing in more original and licensed content. Youku specifically has been pushing its Youku Originals, such as The Ultimate Winner, which we told you about earlier this year.
Recently, however, Youku and its rival Tudou (NASDAQ:TUDO) have been making headlines with each accusing the other of pirating content. We’ll keep you posted on that situation if we hear anything. Update 22:24pm: Youku says they filed a lawsuit and it was accepted by the court.
Note that most of the movies here are licensed for China, and might not be viewable in other countries — just in case you have trouble viewing! ↩