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China’s Youku signs content deal with 20th Century Fox

Deal covers 250 titles both new releases and from the Fox library.

China’s leading Internet television company Youku has struck a deal with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment under which Youku will license 250 titles of new release and library films.

The titles will appear on Youku Premium, Youku’s on-demand platform, which has processed more than one million orders since launching in beta a year ago.

The 250-film deal will grant Youku Premium the right to offer Fox’s new release films and library titles. Film franchises have performed well on Youku Premium, with new theatrical releases driving online interest in previous installments in the franchises, and the new deal includes online rights to some of Fox’s most popular franchises including Planet of the Apes, Ice Age, X-Men and Alien. The films will begin appearing on Youku Premium this month, ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday in late January.

All the Twentieth Century Fox titles under the deal will be distributed on Youku Premium with a fee of RMB5 (about 79 cents) per view per film online.

“We’re eager to make our entertainment content accessible to the widest audience possible in China,” said Jamie McCabe, Jamie McCabe, Executive Vice President Worldwide Pay Per View, Video on Demand, and Electronic Sell-Through, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. “With Youku’s on-demand platform, consumers can easily enjoy our films online with a quality viewing experience.”

“We have been working closely with Hollywood studios in providing quality content to millions of Chinese Internet users while effectively protecting intellectual properties,” said Huilong Zhu, Vice president of Movie Operations and Corporate Development. “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.”

Number of pay-per-view transactions on Youku Premium more than tripled between Q2 and Q3 of 2011. As of November, a growing percentage — 13.5% — of Youku Premium users paid more than once per month to view premium content.

Youku in the last two years have actively engaged in licensing contents from major studios. In 2010, the company signed a deal with Disney to distribute its TV series titles as well as library film titles. Last year the Chinese company dealt with Warner Bros to license 450 titles for Chinese users.

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