BBC Worldwide is continuing to mine its lucrative Top Gear catalog under a new deal with Shanghai Media Group’s Shanghai Oriental Pearl Group. The pact will bring 360 hours of the motoring program to BesTV platforms in China which have over 26M subscribers. Early next year, the upcoming 24th cycle of the show that now stars Matt LeBlanc will become available. Also included in the deal are the full pack of Top Gear UK, five seasons of Top Gear USA plus six of Top Gear Korea and two of Top Gear China. This extends BBC WW and SMG’s relationship following a pact earlier this year to co-produce Earth: One Amazing Day for 2017. In January, BBC WW also worked with SMG to bring Sherlock: The Abominable Bride to Middle Kingdom movie theaters where it grossed over $24M.
Alibaba Pictures Group’s Guangdong Yueke Software Engineering Company is making an investment in Irish cinema data analytics company, Showtime Analytics. As a result of the investment, the internet-based promotion and distribution business of Alibaba Pictures will create what it calls “a new era of data operation” with cinemas on the mainland. Headquartered in Dublin, Showtime provides cinemas with analytics products and services and has clients in more than 60 countries. Exhibitors consider data analysis key in a world where the theatrical business is shifting. Areas that Showtime covers include box office, occupancy rates, merchandise sales, moviegoer tastes and viewing trends. Yueke was created in 1997 and is a pioneer of box office software research and development in China. Its Firefinixx (now Finixx) is currently used by more than 2,000 movie theaters in the Middle Kingdom.
Studiocanal and Japan’s Wowow have finalized a deal for Harlan Coben’s drama series The Five. The 10-part thriller will make its Asia debut on the pay-TV broadcaster in February. This adds to recent international acquisitions of The Five by Italy’s TIMvision and Radio-Canada for French-speaking Canada, alongside France’s Canal+, Israel’s Yes DBS, the Netherlands’ NPO, New Zealand’s Sky, Australia’s SBS 1 and Spain’s Telefonica. Produced by RED Production Company, the series stars Tom Cullen, O-T Fagbenle, Lee Ingleby and Sarah Solemani. Sky recently commissioned an eight-part sister series, The Four, created by Coben and written by The Five’s Danny Brocklehurst.
Bruno Wu’s Sun Seven Stars Media Group has agreed to create a RMB 3B ($437M) holding company to support and invest in the future growth of Chinese VOD provider Wecast Network. Wecast was formerly YOU On Demand Holdings and is looking to become a global, vertical and transactional B2B2C, mobile-driven, consumer management platform. Distribution agreements are already in place with many of the studios including Disney, Paramount, NBCUniversal and Fox Television. There is also a broad swath of content from top Chinese filmmakers. The new holding company will be 67% capitalized by Sun Seven Stars and 33% by Guizhou Guibao Investment Fund in which Sun Seven Stars is a 10% limited partner. It will additionally be funded with RMB 1B cash ($146M). The objective, say the partners, is to support and invest in Wecast’s future growth and business scope expansion.