TECHINASIA: Alibaba is continuing its foray into entertainment with a US$134 million purchase of Yueke Software engineering, a company that makes software for ticket booking and theater management.
According to Yueke’s website, the company offers a number of services like enterprise software that helps brick-and-mortar movie theaters run operations, ticket management software for staffed booths and automatic vending machines, white label mobile apps for mobile ticket purchases, and even digital signage. The company counts several domestic movie theater chains among its clients, and has channel partnerships with Alipay, Tmall, WeChat, Weibo, Douban, and Dianping.
The purchase is made under Alibaba Pictures Group – a subsidiary that originated from Alibaba’s purchase of a 60 percent stake in film distributor ChinaVision Media. While ChinaVision was primarily a distributor of theatrical releases, Alibaba’s ambitions for entertainment go further than that. In January Alibaba Pictures revealed it would produce its first movie, to be directed by Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai. Alibaba also launched a crowd-investing platform called Yulebao, where investors can pool funds to finance new film projects.
Alibaba says that the acquisition of Yueke Software “will create more opportunities for movie industries and ecommerce operators to cooperate and help movie theaters to generate a variety of revenue streams outside traditional box office revenues.” It’s not clear how this purchase will help Alibaba’s own ecommerce business, especially since Alibaba has sold movie tickets on Taobao, Tmall, and Alipay Wallet for a long time. In 2014, it sold 2 million passes on Taobao in a single day. But at the very least, it will give Alibaba increased access to brick-and-mortar movie theaters. That might come in handy, given that China’s biggest theater chain is building a joint venture with Alibaba’s two biggest rivals.