Disney is teaming up with Alibaba to launch its on-demand streaming service, DisneyLife, in China. All content will be served up by Wasu Media Network, in which Alibaba owns shares.This represents only the second market for DisneyLife, having launched exclusively in the U.K. in late November.
The partnership with Alibaba, one of China’s biggest e-commerce companies, is key to the launch, given the inherent barriers that hinder foreign T.V. networks from entering the market. It’s the same reason why other on-demand services such as Netflix have yet to arrive on the scene, though Netflix was recently rumored to be partnering with Wanda for its entry.
Disney’s multi-year license agreement covers classic movies from both Disney and Pixar’s back catalog, as well as animation series, e-books, games, songs, and more. Interestingly, the China launch will require a separate piece of hardware to work — in the U.K. it’s app-based, meaning you use your own devices. However, Alibaba refers to a “Mickey Mouse-themed device” in its press release, which it says will be available on pre-sale from December 15. It will cost RMB799 ($125.00), and comes with a one-year DisneyLife subscription.
Alibaba nor Disney have revealed any more details about the device, or how much the standalone subscription will cost after one year. We’ve reached out to Alibaba, which has confirmed that the service will require a separate set-top box to work.