Alibaba Pictures’ Investments In Online Ticketing Drove Finances In Year’s First Half

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Alibaba Pictures’ content business did well in the first six months of 2017 — but the entertainment e-commerce business drove the company in the period, it reports today.

The film division of Jack Ma’s Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba saw revenues increase 313% to 1.06 billion yuan $161.1 million). But costs also rose, leaving the company with a 28.5% increase in its comprehensive loss, to 587.5 million ($89.1 million).

Content production revenues improved 156.2% to 111.0 million yuan ($16.8 million). The bottom line swung to a 31.5 million profit from a 45.0 million loss ($4.8 million).

Film releases affecting the six month period included Ferry ManMr. Pride vs Miss Prejudice, and This is Not What I Expected.

Alibaba says that it plans to release a romance, 21 Carats, by year end. It’s developing Swords of Legend 2 which is “based on a widely popular game in the [People’s Republic of China] and will feature cutting edge visual effects.”

In addition, Alibaba licensed to video streaming service Youku the rights to “several drama series,” as well as a romantic comedy Ugly Girl Hai Ru Hua.

But the company aimed its spotlight on its online movie ticketing platform. Tao Piao Piao. Alibaba says it “allocated significant resources” to it in the first half, including ticket subsidies to cinemas “in order to expand its user base.”

It’s now used in nearly 7,000 theaters that account for 97% of China’s box office sales.

Last month Alibaba increased its stake in Tao Piao Piao to 96.7% from 9.1%. It says that it’s “committed to investing in Tao Piao Piao and is confident of its market potentials in the Group’s entertainment ecosystem.”

The internet-based promotion and distribution operation generated 913.9 million yuan ($138.6 million) in the first half, up 331.2%. The unit’s loss decreased 2.8% to 363.8 million ($55.2 million).

“Utilizing its technological capabilities and resources, Alibaba Pictures will continue to fortify the business foundation in its ecosystem, and develop innovative business initiatives.,” it says. “Moreover, collaboration with Alibaba Group’s media and digital entertainment matrix will be strengthened further. The Group is ready to advance to a new phase of development.”

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