Alibaba wants to make a Netflix-HBO hybrid called TBO

15 Jun 2015

Alibaba is to move on Netflix and HBO’s turf with the news that it is to launch its own video-streaming service called Tmall Box Office (TBO).

The company’s head of digital entertainment, Patrick Liu, announced the company’s intentions yesterday, stating that while its first goal will be to expand its operations in its native China, it will then look to expand TBO’s reach internationally as well.

According to Reuters, TBO will also source most of its content from China and its own creations, which will also eventually include international content, no doubt worrying Netflix and HBO.

Speaking of the emulation of the two US companies’, Liu said: “Our mission, the mission of all of Alibaba, is to redefine home entertainment. Our goal is to become like HBO in the US, to become like Netflix in the US.”

While details of TBO remain sketchy for now, those present at the announcement were told that it won’t be an entirely paid-for service like its American counterparts, with 10pc of its content expected to be offered free online.

The other 90pc will then be offered either as a monthly subscription service or even on a pay-by-show basis.

Netflix has been trying for some time to enter the Chinese market but have found it difficult to crack.

Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings said last April of its potential Chinese expansion: “On China, we’re just still learning about how best to approach it; we’re not sure.”

Alibaba’s office in Hangzhou, China image via Soory/Flickr

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic