Youku Premium titles will cost $0.77 per view per film online.
Chinese Internet television company Youku.com, Inc. has signed a digital distribution agreement with CAV Warner Home Entertainment, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group’s joint venture in China. Under the terms of the three-year agreement, Youku will introduce a total of 400 to 450 of Warner Bros’ new releases as well as library titles to its Youku Premium content services.
The company also announced the official launch of its Youku Premium paid content platform today, a new product distinct from Youku’s free viewing services. All the Warner Bros titles under the distribution deal will be distributed on Youku Premium with a fee of RMB5 ($0.77) per view per film online.
Warner Bros. was one of the first major international studios to tap the potential of China’s growing premium online video market. The studio first worked with Youku earlier this year for the launch of the film Inception on the then beta version of Youku Premium.
Currently online Warner Bros titles include Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Clash of the Titans [pictured], The Bucket List, The Invasion, Troy, Zodiac, and Time Traveler’s Wife. Youku Premium will add the conclusion of the Harry Potter series after its release later this year. The Lord of the Rings trilogy will also be available soon on the paid service.
Youku Premium launched in beta in October 2010. Since then, the service has processed 200,000 paid transactions of more than 300 movies and 3,880 educational programs.
“Over the past year,” said Dele Liu, Youku’s CFO, “we’ve seen Chinese Internet users become more sophisticated in terms of what they’ll spend money on. People are increasingly willing to pay for high quality content, and we take the growth of Youku Premium as a sign that the market is improving for paid services.”
Youku last year in September signed a two-year distribution deal with Disney to purchase a minimum of 259 library episodes and 44 current episodes per year and has distributed series such as Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy on Youku’s free service. The series has received good advertisement revenue and Liu said “we will increase investment this year”.