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Rakuten TV launches free service in Europe; TikTok to review content policies

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

* Rakuten Inc.'s video-on-demand service, Rakuten TV, is launching a free, ad-supported channel in Europe as it looks to expand in the region. Alongside an existing mix of rental and download titles, users can access a free section of the company's newly redesigned streaming app, which includes Hollywood movies and exclusive shows. The service is available in beta across compatible smart TVs and will be rolled out to mobile and desktop.

* TikTok, a video app owned by Beijing ByteDance Technology Co. Ltd., will bring in an external group comprising former U.S. congressmen to review and advice on its content moderation policies, Reuters reported. The move came after U.S. Senator Marco Rubio asked the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to review ByteDance's purchase of, a California-based video sharing platform it later rebranded as TikTok. Rubio said the national security implications of the acquisition must be reviewed due to TikTok's alleged censorship of content deemed sensitive by the Chinese government.

* Tencent Holdings Ltd., the primary media partner of the National Basketball Association Inc. in China, lifted its broadcast suspension of NBA preseason games and resumed livestreaming the games on its sports website, TechNode reported. Tencent earlier suspended NBA broadcasts after a Houston Rockets executive expressed support for the Hong Kong protests in a tweet.

Content and carriage deals

* YuppTV Inc., an over-the-top service that provides South Asian content, entered into a partnership with Indian telecom operator BSNL to offer video and broadband technology services to mobile and fixed-line users.

* WarnerMedia LLC's HBO Max struck a licensing agreement with Studio Ghibli to add the Japanese animation house's titles to its platform, with HBO Max to become the U.S. streaming home to the entire Studio Ghibli library, Advanced Television reported.

* Netflix Inc. is collaborating with Philippines-based Globe Studios to bring "Dead Kids" to the streaming service. Based on true events that touches on friendship, coming-of-age, thriller and crime, "Dead Kids" is set to premiere on Netflix later this year. The streaming giant also ordered a 10-episode anime series from Japanese director Masaaki Yuasa titled "Japan Sinks 2020," Vulture reported. The show will premiere in 2020.

* Users of MAXStream, the video streaming app of Indonesian mobile carrier PT Telekomunikasi Selular, can now watch HBO Go programs on the platform, Detik reported. Users can access HBO Go in MAXStream even without an HBO subscription.

* Walmart Inc.-owned online retailer Flipkart India Pvt. Ltd. is adding original shows to its newly launched video platform, Reuters reported, citing a company statement. Flipkart will work with Bollywood directors such as Farah Khan to produce original content.

* Youku Tudou Inc. inked a deal with Genius Brands International to co-produce "Stan Lee's Superhero Kindergarten," an animated series starring and executive produced by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Variety reported. Aimed at preschoolers, the comedy-adventure series will be available to Chinese audiences on the platform.

* Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd.'s video streaming platform ZEE5 entered into a partnership with Panasonic Corp. to add ZEE5 in the recommended apps section of Panasonic's Android smart TVs, Television Post reported.

Service launches

* TikTok launched an education program in India by teaming up with local education technology startups and content creators to produce educational videos for the platform, TechCrunch reported. TikTok's educational content covers a range of topics, from school-level science and math concepts to learning new languages. The app also features videos that offer tips on health and mental awareness, as well as motivational talks.

* Nine Entertainment Co. Holdings Ltd. introduced cost per completed view on its short-form and long-form video products. According to Nine's Chief Sales Officer Michael Stephenson, marketers and advertisers will only pay for ad views that have a 100% completion rate.

* Thailand-based internet provider Triple T Broadband PCL is working with South Korea's KT Corp. to launch a new streaming service in Thailand, Krungthep Turakij reported. The partners expect the service to be available by the second quarter of 2020.

* Dish TV India Ltd. launched an Android-based set-top box and voice-enabled Alexa built-in smart kit, Television Post reported. The new offerings from the direct-to-home service provider will support popular OTT platforms including Inc.'s Prime Video, ZEE5, Balaji Telefilms Ltd.'s ALTBalaji and Google LLC's YouTube LLC.

Other news

* China's National Radio and Television Administration expects to introduce a code of practice for the interactive video industry by 2019-end, 21st Century Business Herald reported. Tencent Video, iQIYI Inc., Youku Tudou and Mango TV have all pledged to abide by the code.

* India is considering censoring streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video over complaints that the services offer shows with obscene content or that which disrespects religious beliefs, a senior government official told Reuters. Though it is possible the government will decide against any regulation, several other options are being explored, which include a self-regulation code without government interference, a government-monitored code or measures requiring platforms to obtain content approval in advance.

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