China’s Youku inks licensing deal with NBC Universal

In a further sign that China’s online video scene is going legit, over-the-top (OTT) video provider Youku has signed a multi-year licensing deal with NBC Universal’s international TV distribution arm for the VOD rights to a range of current, library and new content on its paid-for service ‘Youku Premium’.

The agreement covers a yearly rotating selection of over 100 classic titles from NBC Universal’s catalogue, including the likes of Trainspotting, Being John Malkovich and The Big Lebowski, as well as a selection of upcoming releases such as Battleship and Snow White & The Huntsman, which will appear after their release in Chinese cinemas.

“Youku has been steadily broadening and deepening our partnerships with Chinese and international studios,” said Huilong Zhu, Youku’s vice president of movie operations and corporate development.

“Our new agreement with NBCUniversal is one more step forward towards our goal of offering the highest quality content to Youku’s more than 300 million viewers. The new agreement best demonstrates the confidence that we and our partners share in the growth of Youku Premium.”

Youku has already signed deals to license content from a number of major international studios including Disney, Paramount, Dreamworks, Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox.

China’s online video scene is currently going through a period of major consolidation and growth at the moment, as evidenced by the news that Youku is merging with competitor Tudou in a 100% stock-for-stock transaction (more details here).

All this growth has caused the country’s media regulator the State Administration of Radio, Television and Film (SARFT) to issue a warning earlier this week that all online video service providers must prescreen all content before broadcasting it, and will be held responsible for any offensive content which slips through the net.

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