HBO goes to China, signing OTT distribution deal with Tencent

HBO may not have disclosed much, at all, about its planned standalone over-the-top service in the United States, but the premium network is about to make waves in China, announcing a deal with online video giant Tencent that will see many of its series distributed through Tencent's website "in the very near future." Terms of the deal were not disclosed, The Wall Street Journal reported.

TV shows and movies will be available exclusively via Tencent Video, the provider's online video platform, which works on most devices including PCs, tablets and smartphones. The only catch: All programming must be individually approved by China's government censors, which could delay distribution and result in some shows not being available at all.

It's HBO's first official foray into China, where it has no authorized distribution channels at present. The move could help curb some of the rampant pirating of popular HBO series like Game of Thrones.

The Chinese government also shut down several free online video sites, including and, which had made HBO content and other copyrighted shows available to viewers, according to Bloomberg.

Tencent competes directly with Youku Tudou, a YouTube-like online video giant in which Alibaba owns a nearly 17 percent stake.

For more:
- The Wall Street Journal has this story
- Bloomberg has this story

Related articles:
HBO's Plepler: OTT service isn't 'either/or, it's additive'
Netflix may soon hit U.S. subscriber ceiling… and that could limit profits
HBO online doomed? Don't bet on it