Disney Adds Movies to China’s You On Demand Mobile Service

Disney has expanded its deal with China’s You On Demand, adding films to the company’s mobile service, You Cinema.

As part of the pact with Disney Media Distribution, You On Demand will provide library titles like “Alice in Wonderland” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” as well as older Marvel movies through its subscription-based package. New releases, including “Thor: The Dark World” and “Saving Mr. Banks,” will be available as direct purchases through its transaction VOD offering.

Disney has been providing films to You On Demand’s VOD service for cable platforms since 2012, but only through the company’s cable-based service. That now expands to mobile, which You Cinema is also phasing in films from Lionsgate. The app already features movies from Paramount, including the latest “Star Trek” and “G.I. Joe” sequels.

You On Demand operates as a 20-year joint venture with CCTV-6′s TV arm of China Home Cinema.

Its films and TV shows originally were only available as PPV titles through cable boxes, now available in 18 million homes, which helped entice Hollywood to offer up their entertainment, given that it’s easier to protect content from piracy through set tops and monitor how the entertainment is being consumed.

Each film costs around $1 to $3, a pricepoint that was purposely kept low to entice consumers to make the switch from pirated fare to legitimately distributed pics at a higher quality through cable boxes already in their homes.

Yet as the Chinese market continues to grow into an important revenue stream for Hollywood, studios see the distribution of films on mobile devices in the country as the next phase in how they get their films in front of audiences there — especially as more consumers watch movies on their mobile devices. China now ships more smartphones than the U.S. and those are expected to grow 25% this year to 450 million units, according to research firm IDC.

As it’s sought to grow its service, YOD inked a deal last year with Huawei, the third largest smartphone maker, to pre-load YOD on its Mate-branded handsets.

“Disney films define quality family entertainment and we’re thrilled that You On Demand will be showcasing Disney content to the world’s largest media audience,” said former WWE executive and You On Demand chairman Shane McMahon. “This partnership marks the next step in You On Demand’s commitment to provide rich and diverse content to customers anytime and anywhere on a wide variety of platforms, including mobile, digital cable, IPTV, Over-the-Top and online.”

You On Demand, which operates from New York and Beijing, also has content deals with NBCUniversal, Warner Bros., Miramax Films, and Magnolia Pictures, and Chinese filmmakers. Talks are underway with Fox and Sony.

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