Executive Moves in Alibaba’s Entertainment Unit

Alibaba Group has made strategic changes to management in some of its key digital media and entertainment units to further integrate the businesses and deliver better user experiences for audiences in China.

Yang Weidong, president of video-streaming hub Youku, has added the title of president at Ali Music, while Alibaba Pictures President Fan Luyuan is now also the president of live-event ticketing platform Damai.

The reshuffling is part of a multiphase “push for a unified entertainment strategy and stronger synergies,” Alibaba said in a release. In particular, the company is looking to boost the integration of Ali Music’s cross-platform operations with Youku and improve the concert-going experience for Damai customers.

“In the year and a half since Alibaba Digital Media & Entertainment Group was established, all of the business units have strengthened and made advancements in their respective fields. And the digital media and entertainment matrix is on its way to fighting with stronger coordination,” Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang said in a letter to employees announcing the changes.

 

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Former Alibaba Music and Damai President Zhang Yu will move to a new position within Alibaba Group, though that new role has not yet been announced.

Alibaba’s Digital Media & Entertainment Group, launched in 2016, comprises Alibaba Pictures, Youku, UCWeb, Ali Music, Ali Literature, Alibaba Games and Damai. The first phase of integration was completed late last year, the company said, while the new management changes are the beginning of the second.

Youku, Ali Music Tie-Ups

Youku and Ali Music this year have been partnering on initiatives to bring the two platforms together. Already, users have seen the music from a street-dancing show on Youku immediately available as a playlist on Ali Music’s Xiami streaming site. Independent musicians who got their start on Ali Music have also recorded the theme song for a romance show on Youku, while winners of Youku’s upcoming duet talent competition will release an album through Ali Music.

“The music industry is entering into a whole new stage, and Ali Music is strategically investing in new musical content and developing richer ecosystems around the platform,” Alibaba said in its release. “A collaborative ecosystem can significantly boost value of the platform and better retain users.”

Big Ticket Initiatives

In the online ticketing space, Alibaba Pictures owns the number one movie-ticketing platform, Taopiaopiao. It has 290 million users, or about a 44% share of the market in China. Damai, meanwhile, is the country’s top platform for live-entertainment ticketing and marketing with a 70% share. Alibaba said it expects to capitalize on the overlap in users of the two vendors, extracting insights about consumer demands for offline entertainment and providing a one-stop-shop for entertainment consumption.

There are also plans to better integrate the Alibaba Pictures-owned Phoenix Ticketing System for cinema management and Damai’s Maizuo, a platform for live venues to manage their software and hardware, as a way to upgrade the technology infrastructure for offline entertainment. Damai previously said it would to invest RMB 500 million ($78.5 million) to upgrade Maizuo to strengthen ticketing sales, content services, data services, financial services and marketing for its clients.

The combined moves, including the ticketing integration, are expected to strengthen Alibaba’s competitive advantage in the movie and live-events market, the company said.