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Asia video spotlight: Alibaba Pictures teams up with Amblin Partners

In this 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

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s Alibaba Pictures Group and Steven Spielberg's Amblin Partners struck a strategic deal to co-produce, finance and distribute films for Chinese and global audiences, Alizila reported Oct. 9. The two companies will also team up to distribute film content online via video streaming, and later on TV and other digital distribution platforms. Amblin Partners was formed by DreamWorks Studios, Participant Media LLC, Reliance Entertainment and Entertainment One Ltd.

Content and carriage deals

* Tata Sky Ltd. partnered with the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star to launch Tata Sky Mumbai Film Festival, Indian Television reported Oct. 5. The Indian direct-to-home satellite TV provider's new service runs three films daily, with a selection of titles from recent editions of the cinema event. The service is available to all Tata Sky subscribers at no additional charge.

* Indian VOD platform Spuul Digital Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. expanded its Punjabi content library for its 18 million viewers around the world. According to an Oct. 3 report from NexTV News India, Spuul added more than 100 films to its collection, sourced from producers and distributors such as Unisys, Lokdhun, Kumar Films and Yellow Music.

* Amazon.com Inc. is partnering with Indian filmmaker S.S. Rajamouli, Graphic India and Arka Mediaworks to produce an animated series based on a local blockbuster, Screen Daily reported Sept. 30. "Baahubali: The Lost Legends" will feature new stories about characters from the 2015 live-action blockbuster "Baahubali." The series is set to stream on Amazon Prime Video in India in 2017.

* Singaporean media entertainment firm Rewind Networks signed a deal with Philippine DTH satellite TV provider Cignal Digital TV to add the HITS HD channel to Cignal's roster, World Screen reported Sept. 30. The channel features classic series such as "The X-Files" and "Grey's Anatomy" in HD.

* Netflix Inc. ordered a new animated comedy, "Pacific Heat," from Australian company Working Dog Productions, Variety reported Sept. 29. The streaming company ordered 13 episodes of the series, which will premiere in late 2016 in Australia with Foxtel as its television partner.

* Philippine telcos PLDT Inc. and Smart Communications announced Sept. 27 that they are partnering with media and entertainment company ABS-CBN Corp. for its streaming service iWant TV. The partnership will see the telcos' subscribers gain access to the service, which features ABS-CBN's TV shows and movies.

Service launches

* Digital terrestrial TV platform Freeview Australia will launch a live TV app in November, The Sydney Morning Herald reported Oct. 11. The app will live-stream all free-to-air networks in the country, featuring at least 15 of the total 25 channels during its launch.

* Vodafone India launched its over-the-top app Vodafone Play, which draws content from OTT services including Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd.'s dittoTV, Hooq and Hungama Movies, Television Post reported Oct. 4. Offering access to more than 14,000 film titles, 180 live TV channels, and an extensive music catalog, Vodafone Play also includes features such as pausing live TV, DVR capability, show start reminders and responsive streaming of live TV channels.

* South Korean IPTV provider LG Uplus Corp. launched a U+tv YouTube channel, Financial News reported Sept. 28. Viewers can use their IPTV service remote to watch a variety of popular YouTube content using functions such as fast-forward, replay and skip.

* YouTube Inc. launched YouTube Go, a new app for offline video viewing, in India. According to a Sept. 27 company blog post, the app allows users to preview videos before loading them on their devices, and choose a resolution based on the file size. Users can also share videos without tapping into their mobile data. The subsidiary of Alphabet Inc.'s Google Inc. said a widespread launch will happen in early 2017.

* Singtel TV introduced NDTV 24x7, an English-language news channel from India, Television Post reported Sept. 26. The channel's launch targets the Singaporean telco's Indian TV viewers.

More news

* After banning Indian direct-to-home services, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority has specified punishments for violators in the country, Propakistani reported Oct. 10. They will reportedly be fined 10 million Pakistani rupees and face jail time of up to four years.

* Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the likelihood of the streaming giant entering the Chinese market "doesn't look good," and the company will instead "focus on the rest of the world," Bloomberg News reported Oct. 7. The statement comes after Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer, said in June that the company remained interested in China.

* Indonesian telco PT XL Axiata Tbk suspended the mobile video-on-demand service Vuclip, Indotelko reported Oct. 5. The move comes after complaints by XL customers regarding Vuclip's imposition of subscriptions without requesting an agreement.

* Australian subscription video-on-demand service Presto will be shut down in early 2017 after Seven West Media Ltd. sold its stake to joint venture partner Foxtel, The Australian Financial Review reported Oct. 4. The Australian pay TV provider will end Presto's service on Jan. 31, 2017.

* After deciding to discontinue the Presto service, Foxtel announced Oct. 4 that it is revamping the pricing for its streaming service Foxtel Play. Subscribers will be offered a choice of five entry-level content packages at different prices starting in December.