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The content licensing deal between Celestial Tiger Entertainment (CTE), Lionsgate’s partner in Asia and one of Asia’s largest vertically integrated independent entertainment companies, and Youku Tudou, one of the leading Internet television companies in China, is off to a fast start as the highly-anticipated Lionsgate television series Orange is the New Black has generated nearly 9 million views in its first six weeks in China and has already become one of Youku’s most watched Western dramas.
The deal granted Youku the exclusive premiere of Orange Is The New Black only 24 hours after its U.S. debut on Netflix, one of the earliest debuts ever for a U.S. show on an international digital platform.
In addition to Orange Is The New Black, Youku’s advertising-supported video on demand service is also showcasing other Lionsgate television series such as the critically-acclaimed and multiple Emmy Award-winning series Mad Men.
“We are very excited to expand our partnership with Youku on films and television series, and Orange Is The New Black has gotten our latest content licensing deal off to a strong start. There is tremendous buzz on the show worldwide and it is a testament to how the media business is changing globally, with the successful premiere of the show in China on a leading internet television company only 24 hours after it premiered online in the U.S. on Netflix,” said Wendy Reeds, CTE’s Executive Vice President, Content Sales and Distribution.
“Presenting a show such as Orange Is The New Black is one step closer to our ultimate goal of building up one of the largest online video libraries in China with the best selection,” said Xiangyang Zhu, Chief Content Officer of Youku Tudou Inc. “We were thrilled to be able to show the latest hit U.S. television series almost the same day as when American audiences got to enjoy it, and we’re delighted with the results so far. We’re always on the lookout for great content to wow our 400 million viewers.”
Orange Is The New Black is a comedic drama series created by Jenji Kohan, creator of the hit comedy Weeds, and produced by Lionsgate Television. The 13-episode series is based on the best-selling memoir Orange Is The New Black: My Year In a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman. The show revolves around the experiences of Piper, a happily-engaged PR executive, after she is sentenced to minimum security prison for a decade-old offence. To survive, Piper must traverse the fascinating world of women’s prison; where gangs are like families, and baking cheesecake in a microwave is the coolest thing to do.
Orange Is The New Black premiered in the U.S. on Netflix on July 11th to rave critical reviews and has already been renewed by Netflix for a second season. It debuted on Youku on July 12th, and Youku has also licensed the exclusive online VoD rights to the second and all subsequent seasons.
CTE’s previous content licensing deal with Youku covered 200 movie titles from Lionsgate which included such acclaimed titles as Hotel Rwanda, Monster’s Ball and Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.
Lionsgate is partnered in CTE with Saban Capital Group and Astro’s Celestial Pictures. CTE exclusively sells Lionsgate’s content in Greater China and Southeast Asia and also represents the studio’s television content and film library in Japan and Korea.