Battling Alibaba for market share

| Avery Chen 14 Jan 2019

Maoyan Entertainment is the latest Chinese online firm to raise funds through equity listing.

Established to engage in the online movie ticketing business as an entertainment department of Meituan Corporation in 2012, Maoyan expanded vertically by integrating industry resources.

Three years after launching its Maoyan app, the company introduced Beijing Enlight as a strategic investor, becoming the lead distributor for movies in 2016.

Maoyan was valued at 20 billion yuan (HK$23.12 billion) when it raised 1 billion yuan from Tencent (0700) in November 2017. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, one of its joint sponsors, suggested Maoyan would carry a valuation of between 28 billion yuan and 38 billion yuan.

After buying out its main competitor, Beijing Weige Shidai, two years ago, Maoyan became China's largest online movie ticketing platform.

It now has exclusive entry portals on WeChat Pay, QQ Wallet, Meituan app and Dianping app, as well as Maoyan mini program on WeChat.

Chinese online ticketing is now a duopoly market with Maoyan and Tao Piao Piao, an online movie ticketing platform of Alibaba Pictures (1060) under Alibaba Group, aggregated accounting for 95.8 percent of market share, according to iResearch Report.

Since 2014, the two industry leaders have competed fiercely to seize more market share by using heavy subsidies.

Maoyan's selling and marketing expenses surged 87.07 percent annually to 1.72 billion yuan in the first nine months last year, primarily due to an increase in user incentives, the company said.

However, the battle will probably come to an end as China's top film regulator plans to ban the subsidizing of online movie tickets.

In September, 2018, the government announced the policy changes to the mainland's major cinema chains, including those under billionaire Wang Jianlin's Dalian Wanda Group, and the state-owned China Film Group, mainland media Caixin reported.

Meanwhile, Maoyan and Alibaba Pictures' business significantly depends on the development of the local entertainment industry.

China is the world's second-largest movie market after the United States, with total movie box office revenue rising 9 percent to 60.98 billion yuan in 2018, according to the State Film Administration.

However, this annual growth pace slowed from 13.45 percent recorded in 2017, as several big-budget domestic films flopped in 2018.

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