China to launch Netflix-like movie service

Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:00pm EDT
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By Sue Zeidler and Ronald Grover

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The government-run China Movie Channel will launch an online service like Netflix Inc in China this year, promising a big new revenue source for Hollywood from streaming its films and TV shows to subscribers in the world's most populous nation.

The new service is set to open in the fourth quarter, according to its backers, who say they have signed their first content agreement with a major Hollywood studio, Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures.

Hollywood studios have been largely excluded from doing business in the nation's most populous nation by government-imposed import limits.

Paramount will provide movies and TV shows from its library, which includes hits such as the "Mission Impossible" films, to the Chinese movie streaming service, said Longei Liang, managing director of the Chinese company's "M1905" movie-streaming website.

The as-yet unnamed movie service, announced on Thursday in Beverly Hills, Calif., is also negotiating similar agreements with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc and other studios, Liang said.

China Movie Channel plans to create the new service with Jiaflix Enterprises, a group that includes former Columbia Pictures chairman Sid Ganis.

Jiaflix, a play on "Jia," which means "home," expects to soon add content from more studios, said Marc Ganis, a cousin of Sid Ganis and a Jiaflix managing director.

"This new venture will bring the best that Hollywood has to offer to viewers in China," said Sid Ganis. "It represents a great opportunity for Hollywood to increase its exports to China and enhance cultural cooperation between our two nations."   Continued...