Alibaba to expand its ticketing operation

Updated: 2016-05-17 08:13

By Meng Jing(China Daily USA)

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Alibaba Pictures Group Ltd is to expand its online movie-ticketing business into a wider marketing platform, as the Hong Kong-listed company continues its ambitious foray into the entertainment sector.

Alibaba to expand its ticketing operation

Officials at the film offshoot of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group said on Monday it was rebranding the unit into "Tao Piaopiao", and that it would now handle ticketing for concerts, sports events and other entertainment events it organizes, as well as provide promotional and distribution services.

Tao Piaopiao, previously known as Taobao Dianying and launched at the end of 2014, already claims a 20 percent share of China's online movie-ticketing market.

Kong Qi, the general manger of Tao Piaopiao - which translates as "hunting for tickets" - said its ultimate goal is to become the country's largest entertainment marketing platform.

A 1.7 billion yuan ($260 million) financing package was unveiled for the revamped business over the weekend, led by a group of investors including CDH Investments, Ant Financial Services Group and, which gives Tao Piaopiao an estimated 13.7 billion yuan valuation.

The expansion plan was met with analyst approval, at a time of fierce competition within China's online movie ticketing sector.

"We carried out a recent survey that found cinema goers care most about price, and little about where to buy tickets, as long as they are cheap," said Huang Guofeng, analyst with the Beijing-based internet consultancy Analysys International.

He said the current cash-burning practice by many firms of offering subsidies to cinema goers is unsustainable long-term.

"Expanding its business into promotion and distribution, and providing more value-added services will be key for Alibaba Pictures, which in turn will drive up online ticketing revenue," he said.

Kong said the company's upgraded platform will be able to tailor-make specific movie promotions, based on big-data-led technology.

"For example, we can predict in which cities a movie might be a big hit, which will significantly help movie makers," he said.

By leveraging Alibaba's huge resources, he said the platform will also provide financing services to cash-thirsty moviemakers.

 Alibaba to expand its ticketing operation

A cinema goer takes a picture of the Captain America 3 poster in Yichang, Hubei province. Provided to China Daily

(China Daily USA 05/17/2016 page13)