Cinedigm is prepping a new internet-streaming service designed for American fans of Chinese entertainment.
The company plans to launch of Bambu in the first quarter of 2019, with a package of content aimed at Gen Z and millennial audiences in the U.S. Bambu will be available as both a free ad-supported VOD service and an ad-free subscription-based service for $3.99 per month.
Bambu will offer thousands of hours of Chinese film and TV shows, according to Cinedigm. The company, and independent content aggregator and distributor, will procure content for Bambu from licensor partners, including top Chinese licensors and distributors.
The upcoming launch of Bambu comes after Cinedigm last year sold a majority stake in the company to Bison Capital, a Hong Kong-based investment firm. It subsequently inked deals with Chinese entertainment companies including Starrise Media and Youku Pictures. Cindeigm also has a partnership with state-run broadcaster Central China Television.
Bambu “is another very important step in our bilateral content-distribution strategy for China and North America,” Bill Sondheim, president of Cinedigm Entertainment Group. In addition, he said, Bambu will provide audience feedback to Chinese producers working to produce movies and TV series for a global audience.
Cindeigm currently operates six other niche-oriented OTT streaming networks: mixed-martial arts channel CombatGO; CONtv, geared around pop-culture and fandom; documentary service Docurama; the faith-and-family Dove Channel, HallyPop, and esports channel Wham.
The move by Cinedigm to expand its specialty OTT services comes amid a pullback on the niche-SVOD front by AT&T’s WarnerMedia, which in the last two weeks pulled the plug on K-drama service DramaFever and FilmStruck, catering to fans of classic, arthouse and indie films.
Programming available on Bambu will include action epics, serial dramas, romantic comedies, sci-fi, horror, and fantasy adventure sagas, as well as music and reality series and educational programming like instructional Chinese-language courses and cultural cooking shows.
Film titles eyed for Bambu include bomb-squad thriller “Shock Wave,” starring Andy Lau; sci-fi epic “Kung Fu Traveler”; and “The Monkey King: Havoc In Heaven’s Palace,” starring Donnie Yen and Chow Yun-Fat. TV series slated for distribution on Bambu include “Journey to the West,” billed as the most-watched show in Chinese TV history; historical drama “Nirvana in Fire”; thriller “Lost in Translation”; food/cooking documentary series “A Bite of China”; fantasy crime show “The Four”; and new hits such as “The Advisors Alliance” and “Diamond Lover.”
“Young Americans are incredibly culturally savvy, and proudly receptive to the latest global trends,” Erick Opeka, Cinedigm’s president of digital networks, said in a statement. “Bambu allows these modern tastemakers to stay at the cultural forefront, introducing them to a roster of new series and up-and-coming artists that they can discover and show their friends.”