Netflix going to China? Video streaming service in talks with Chinese partners

Netflix is in talks with Jack Ma-backed Wasu Media and other potential partners to enter China's booming online video market, Bloomberg reports.

Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters/File
Reed Hastings, founder and chief executive of Netflix, attends a red carpet as Netflix launches its video streaming service in France, in Paris, Sept. 15, 2014.

Video streaming company Netflix Inc is in talks with Jack Ma-backed Wasu Media Holding Co and other potential partners to enter China's booming online video market, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Netflix is seeking a partner that has licenses for content on all devices, including mobile phones, computers and set-top boxes, the report said. 

Reuters could not immediately reach Wasu Media for comment and Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside regular business hours.

Netflix earlier said it was developing plans to launch a "modest" service in China if it can get permission to operate in the world's most populous country. Chinese consumers are used to watching entertainment for free that is either supported by ads or pirated.

"For every country we know what we want to do, but in China we are still exploring our options," Chief Executive Reed Hastings said in an interview earlier this year.

A local partnership would be essential given the Chinese government's strict controls over licensing for online content, Bloomberg said.

Last month, Wasu Media said Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma and other partners will pay 6.54 billion yuan ($1.05 billion) for a 20 percent stake in the company.

The Christian Science Monitor reported in February on Netflix's global reach:

Netflix launched in Latin America in 2011 and now has more than 5 million subscribers in the region. The company now has a presence in 50 countries, and hopes to increase that to 200 by the end of 2016 with a major push into Asia and certain parts of Africa. It’s also heavily invested in developing original programming with broader global appeal, including the $90 million “Marco Polo,” and “Marseille,” a French political drama. In the short term, such efforts appear to be working – Netflix’s international revenue jumped 85 percent in a year’s time, according to a fall 2014 earnings report.

(Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bengaluru)

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