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Netflix acquires first online drama series produced in China
 
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Photo: Getty Images
 
Netflix acquires first online drama series produced in China
 
US entertainment giant Netflix has acquired an online drama series produced in China, Chinese media reported last week, as the company struggles to launch its video streaming service in the country. 
 
The drama, Day and Night, with more than 4 billion views since its debut in August, is produced by Youku Tudou, a streaming video service platform owned by Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group. 
 
Netflix will become the first foreign platform to distribute the 32-episode online drama in more than 190 markets around the world, according to Yang Weidong, president of Youku, Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group. 
 
The drama will also be Youku’s first China-made online drama series to be distributed worldwide. 
The drama, which follows a murder investigation, has been a blockbuster in China since its debut, which has been rated 9 out of 10 on Douban Movie, an IMDB-like online movie and drama rating system.
 
In the drama, a police detective in charge is recused from the case when it is revealed that his twin brother is the top suspect. The detective then quits his job and is hired by the new lead investigator as a secret consultant. Directed by Wang Wei, 29, the drama stars Pan Yueming, a Chinese mainland actor noted for his role in the film A Love of Blueness, in the role of both brothers. 
 
Netflix had tried to launch its own services in the huge Chinese market, but was hindered by the country’s restrictions on foreign digital content services. Instead, it has turned to licensing deals with China’s existing online service providers. In April this year, the company reached a content agreement with iQiyi, another video service provider in China and a subsidiary of Chinese search giant Baidu, in which Netflix agreed to sell the local streaming rights of a batch of its originals.
 
"China is an important market for obvious reasons; it's also a challenging market for obvious reasons," Robert Roy, Netflix's vice president, had said at the time, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "We'd love to have direct relationship in China, and it's just a matter of when and how, and that's something that we're trying to figure out over time." 
 
Chinese online video platforms have been among the major buyers of Hollywood movies and TV series like House of Cards in recent years, amid a boom in China’s Internet industry and more users willing to pay for good content online. Meanwhile, rapid improvements in China’s content production industry have also created new opportunities for Chinese dramas to be exported. 
 
"We are proud to partner with Netflix in this ground-breaking distribution agreement," said Yang during the 5th China Network Audio-Visual Conference held in Chengdu last Thursday. 
 
“The cultural industry is undergoing robust growth in China, and I believe the export of high-quality content will help people around the world gain a better understanding of the soft power of China,” said Yang. “I’m delighted that Youku can become a pioneer in driving this initiative with this overseas distribution of our Day and Night series.”

 


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