It’s about to get a lot easier for China to consume premium Mouse House content. The Walt Disney Company and the Chinese retail giant Alibaba have inked a multiyear licensing deal for Disney movies and TV series, and will be launching a new product built specifically to stream that content, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The product, called DisneyLife, is shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head and costs $125. Per the Journal’s report, that’s a one-time payment for the device that comes with a yearlong subscription to the DisneyLife service. No word yet on what the service’s fee will be after that free year.
It should be noted that DisneyLife isn’t just a regular streaming service like Netflix. It’s also a portal into All Things Disney in China -- users can buy Disney products and plan vacations to Shanghai Disneyland, which is set to open in mid-2016.
Piracy is a big issue for media companies in China, and being able to offer a legal alternative is an important step in solving the piracy problem. With this deal, too, Alibaba gets in on the ground floor of the potentially huge “over-the-top” streaming industry in China, which, like in America, is just taking flight. Partnering with a company like Disney, one of the most recognizable brands in the world, is key to bringing in curious consumers.
Products will begin shipping on Dec. 28, shortly before “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” premieres in China, on Jan. 9, 2016.
Disney Chairman Bob Iger had hinted about entering the streaming-only space in the company’s last couple earnings calls. Even in the U.S., Disney-owned channels like ABC and ESPN are appearing on streaming TV bundles like PlayStation Vue, and the company recently launched a subscription service (also called DisneyLife) in the U.K.