HBO, Time Warner Inc.’s, home movies unit, has signed a deal with Tencent Holdings Ltd. to distribute its TV dramas and movies through the Chinese internet giant’s online video site.
The deal comes as the United States cable network tries to expand its audience in China.
HBO, whose recent hits include Game Of Thrones and True Detective, expect the partnership to allow it to take advantage of Tencent’s massive online user base and create an official distribution channel in a market where pirated videos are rampant, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Tencent’s online games and social networks have hundreds of millions of users in China and the HBO deal will help it compete more aggressively with rivals in China’s online entertainment space.
In July, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. announced an alliance with Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. to offer the US company’s programs on Alibaba’s set-top boxes.
Xiaomi Inc., China’s largest smartphone maker by shipments, said earlier this month it will invest US$1 billion to acquire TV programs.
Under the deal, Tencent’s video site becomes the exclusive online platform for HBO shows in China, the companies said in a statement Tuesday. Tencent Video, a video site available on PCs, tablets and smartphones, competes against Youku Tudou Inc., in which Alibaba holds a 16.5 percent stake.
Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Appetite for HBO programs, especially Game Of Thrones, is already big in China.
However, there are no authorized online distribution channels for HBO in China and many shows are available on pirate video sites.
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