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Netflix to regulate Indian content; Hotstar to boost original content spend

In this biweekly Asia video spotlight feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of news related to over-the-top, video-on-demand and other online video initiatives in different Asian markets.

Top news

* Netflix Inc. plans to self-regulate content streamed on its platform in India in a bid to prevent potential government censorship, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. The streaming giant and other local players plan to adopt an unofficial code stipulating that streaming platforms should not air content with child pornography, as well as content that disrespects India's national flag and promotes terrorism.

* Star India Pvt. Ltd.'s video streaming service Hotstar will invest 1.2 billion Indian rupees for original content, The Economic Times (India) reports, citing a source. The service also struck a partnership with 15 filmmakers, including Salman Khan and Shekhar Kapur, to offer exclusive content on its platform. Titled Hotstar Specials, the exclusive shows will start streaming by the end of March, according to Mint.

Content and carriage deals

* Baidu Inc.'s online streaming platform iQIYI Inc. reached a partnership with the Shanghai metro to showcase its content in 17 subway lines, covering 37,000 screens in 415 stations, National Business Daily reports. IQIYI also entered into a partnership with Nreal, a Hangzhou-based startup focusing on virtual reality technologies. A major part of the partnership is to explore possibilities to use Nreal's smart glasses on iQIYI's hologram videos, according to Caijing.

* ZEE5 struck a distribution deal with online smart TV brand CloudWalker that will see the Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd.-owned streaming app available on CloudWalker's flagship smart TV range and featured on the homepage of all CloudWalker smart TVs, Television Post reports.

* Inc.'s Prime Video added Punjabi movies to its content offerings, Television Post reports. The streaming platform currently offers content in English, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu.

* Eros Now, Eros International PLC's over-the-top South Asian entertainment platform, entered into an agreement with Indian state-owned telco BSNL to offer unlimited content to BSNL subscribers. The partnership will allow postpaid and prepaid BSNL customers to have unlimited, free access to video content on the Eros Now app by the end of January.

Service launches

* Beijing ByteDance Technology Co. Ltd., operator of Chinese short video app TikTok, unveiled a new messaging service designed to take on Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s WeChat, London's Financial Times reports. Called Duoshan, the app allows users to record and send each other short, private videos that disappear after 72 hours.

* Hello Mobile, the mobile virtual network operator brand of CJ Hello, launched a new mobile plan that offers access to Hello TV's video-on-demand content, Digital Daily reports. Subscribers of the new mobile plan get a fixed amount of Hello TV coins monthly to watch shows and movies.

Other news

* U.S. think tank Peterson Institute for International Economics said Chinese video sharing app TikTok poses a national security threat to the West as it has become popular among the armed forces, Central News Agency reports. The institute also warned against gathering of user data, which could lead to a "Huawei-sized problem."

* China Netcasting Services Association published new regulations on bite-sized short videos, which are popular among young Chinese internet users. According to the association, platforms hosting short videos should invite government bodies and mainstream media to open accounts. The platform should also employ a strong censorship team.

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