Alibaba’s Yang Weidong talks original content at MipTV

Yang Weidong, president of Alibaba Digital Media & Entertainment Group, discussed the need to produce more original content and increase subscriptions revenue during his keynote speech at MipTV in Cannes, France (April 8-11).

At the same time, Alibaba announced that its streaming platform Youku has signed a deal with Endemol Shine Group to develop and produce two “big-budget, high-quality, non-scripted” original series. Endemol Shine will produce the shows through its Endemol Shine China division, which will distribute the series internationally.

Endemol will contribute its expertise in content creation across development, pilot and production consultancy, distribution and technology support. Youku will leverage its audience research systems, which provide audience feedback data throughout the development process.

In a statement, Yang said: “Gone are the days where digital entertainment shows rely on imitating traditional linear channel shows. Digital entertainment shows will be the new engines of industry creativity.”

Speaking at the keynote, Yang said that Youku aims to increase co-productions with international players and eventually see original content comprising more than half the total content on the site.

Yang said China currently has around 579 million online video users, representing 8% of the global market, but the market is very competitive with three players – Youku, iQiyi and Tencent Video – battling for share. Youku sees original content and innovative formats as key to increasing its subscriber base. “More and more users are willing to pay for high-quality content,” Yang said.

Yang also spoke of the importance of data collection and artificial intelligence to provide accurate search and personalised recommendations for users. He also said that the China market skews female, with a 60-40 ratio between female and male users, which have a median age of 25.

Youku’s recent shows include dance competition show Street Dance Of China and detective drama Day And Night, which was acquired by Netflix for global distribution last year.