Alibaba Group buying Hong Kong’s English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post (SCMP.com) and related mobile apps; Chinese websites Nanzao.com and Nanzaozhinan.com. As part of the deal they’re also getting the Hong Kong local editions of magazine titles such as Esquire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, The PEAK and Harper’s Bazaar.
Alibaba are paying HK$2.06 billion, about £176 million as part of their expansion from ecommerce into online entertainment and information. Alibaba say that they’ll use the acquisition “to provide comprehensive and insightful news and analysis of the big stories” in Hong Kong and China and also use technology to create content more efficiently, and provide resources to expand the SCMP’s audience beyond Hong Kong through digital distribution.
SCMP is unique according to Joe Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group as “This is a proposition that is in high demand by readers around the world who care to understand the world’s second-largest economy”. To enable greater access to SCMP content on computers and mobile devices anywhere in the world, Tsai said Alibaba intends to make all digital content available for free, eliminating the newspaper’s “pay wall”.
Most large ecommerce marketplaces are now espousing entertainment as part of their offerings. Rakuten’s catch phrase “Shopping is Entertainment” and Amazon’s Video, music and Kindle offerings are all intended to tie customers into buying from them. Alibaba is no different with Alibaba Pictures (formerly ChinaVision Media) being China’s biggest film and television production company and now the addition of SCMP.