Machinima, With YouTube Blocked in China, Pacts With Sohu to Enter World’s Biggest Market

Gaming and eSports fans in China have largely been unable to access content from Machinima, given that YouTube access has been blocked under the country’s content-restriction policies since 2009.

Now Machinima is charging into the Middle Kingdom under an exclusive licensing deal with Chinese internet giant Sohu, which reaches more than 900 million monthly users. Under the pact, Machinima programming will be available on Sohu’s Online Video PGC (Professionally Generated Content) platform, the country’s second-largest online video service after Alibaba’s Youku Tudou.

The Machinima content will be offered on an ad-supported basis via a Machinima-branded portal across tv.sohu.com and on Sohu apps. The Sohu PGC platform, first developed in 2014 and merged with the 56 online video platform in January 2016, has more than 3,000 producers that have created 700,000 videos and generates about 100 million daily views.

“China is the largest market in the world for eSports and gaming, and crucial for Machinima,” said Machinima CEO Chad Gutstein.

Original Machinima productions coming to Sohu’s video service include “Street Fighter: Resurrection,” eSports reality show “Training Camp,” “The Bacca Chronicles” from YouTube influencer JeromeASF, and the upcoming “Transformers: Combiner Wars” based on the Hasbro toy franchise.

Sohu execs said they are working closely with Machinima to help develop a fanbase in China. “Our audience is dominated by millennials who love gaming and pop culture and Machinima is synonymous with both of these things,” Sohu Video product director Tao Zheng said in a statement. “Adding its highly entertaining content to our platform is certain to bring a wide array of programs that will excite our viewers.”

The Sohu deal comes after Machinima’s recent agreement with AMC Networks International Iberia to launch a subscription VOD service in Spain and Portugal. Machinima says it has creators producing content in 109 countries. Of the company’s 3.8 billion videos watched monthly, 60% are viewed in countries other than the country in which the content was produced.

Separately, Machinima on Thursday released the official trailer for “Transformers: Combiner Wars,” slated to debut Aug. 2 exclusively in the U.S. on Verizon’s Go90. The trailer drop for the series was timed for the first day of Comic-Con 2016.

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