In a further push into China’s entertainment sphere, e-commerce giant Alibaba has pacted with Lionsgate to launch Lionsgate Entertainment World, a subscription streaming service for the mainland. The service will be available exclusively through Alibaba’s set-top boxes and will give users access to high-profile Lionsgate titles including Divergent (which has not had a theatrical release in China), pics from the Twilight and Hunger Games franchises, and TV series The Royals, Nashville and Mad Men. The deal gives Lionsgate bigger exposure in the fast-growing Chinese market where many consumers watch content online — which has traditionally flown lower under the radar of the Middle Kingdom’s famous censors. Alibaba filed for a U.S. IPO earlier this year and recently took a majority stake in ChinaVision Media Group, now Alibaba Pictures Group, as part of its bid to expand. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company has also recently approached Chinese film studios about creating or acquiring content for its online service, and that it is eyeing further investment in local studios. Launch of Lionsgate Entertainment World is expected next month. David U. Lee, founder and president of Leeding Media, helped orchestrate the agreement.
Discovery Networks has hired Dominic Coles as COO and CFO for Discovery Networks Western Europe. The former BBC Director of Operations will be responsible for the operational and financial leadership of Discovery’s Western Europe business consisting of 24 brands in 22 territories including the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. Coles is a 17-year BBC veteran whose positions have also included COO and CFO of BBC Sport and COO of BBC Journalism. In 2012, he led all of the business operations for the corporation’s Olympic activities, which should come in handy as Discovery aligns the recently acquired Eurosport assets. Coles replaces Yitz Shmulewitz who becomes EVP & COO of Eurosport.
Keshet International has appointed Karina Dolgiej to the newly created role of Sales Manager Latin America. Based in Miami, Dolgiej joins KI’s growing international distribution team headed by General Manager Distribution, Keren Shahar. In her new role, she will look to grow KI’s business in the region in both format and finished tape. Dolgiej joins from Zodiak Latino where as Sales Director she negotiated a large number of format deals including Mexico’s Top Model, Desafio Fashionista and Sing If You Can/Killer Karaoke. The news follows the announcement of a second season commission for KI’s Rising Star (locally known as Superstar) by Rede Globo in Brazil.
BBC One hit crime comedy/drama Death In Paradise has added a host of British TV actors as guest stars for the 4th season. Produced by Red Planet Pictures, the show that’s shot on Guadeloupe has had average consolidated viewership of 8.5M over its first three seasons. The series follows endearingly clumsy but brilliant detective Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) as he navigates life and the local police force on a fictional island. Among those joining the guest cast are ex-Downton Abbey resident Amy Nuttall, Will Mellor (Broadchurch), Rosie Cavaliero (A Young Doctor’s Notebook), Hetti Bywater (Eastenders), Leo Staar (Call The Midwife), Katarina Cas (The Wolf Of Wall Street), David Bamber (What Remains), and Amanda Root (The Iron Lady). The new season airs in early 2015. Some previous seasons have run in various U.S. markets.