Group: Disney EchoEar Grand Mouseter/AdministratEAR
Joined: Aug. 2001
||Posted: Nov. 03, 2003 1:32 am/pm
SOHU.com Brings Magic of Disney to Internet, Mobile Phones in China
BEIJING, China -- SOHU.com , China's leading online media, communications, commerce and mobile value-added services company, and the Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG) announced an agreement that will leverage SOHU.com's China market expertise and consumer reach with WDIG's experience as a leading content provider across multiple business lines to deliver innovative Disney online and wireless content and services to China. Beginning October 30, 2003, SOHU.com will provide design, production and hosting services for Disney's Disney.com.cn web site. The company also has licensed Disney Mobile Short Messaging Services (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS) content for distribution via Disney.com.cn and the SOHU.com portal.
The agreement follows a successful three-month trial cooperation in which SOHU built the official Chinese website for Disney/Pixar's Finding Nemo. The companies plan to expand into additional online content areas in the future.
The Disney Mobile content distributed by SOHU.com is among the first Disney-branded mobile content available in China. Color wallpapers, animated cards, black and white logos and picture messages will feature Disney's favorite classic characters, including Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, as well as characters from modern Disney classics such as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. Visitors to Disney Mobile on SOHU.com ( http://disneymobile.sohu.com/ ) will be able to purchase the mobile content online and have it delivered directly to their mobile phone.
WDIG entered the mobile content market in 1999 with some of the first informational, text-based content services in the U.S. The following year, WDIG partnered with NTT DoCoMo on iMode in Japan to introduce the widely recognized Disney-i service including Disney branded graphics, ring tones, games and utilities. Today, Disney Mobile is the number one premium mobile content provider in Japan and is a leading global content provider, with services available in 21 markets with 34 mobile carriers around the world.
Disney.com.cn, launched in August 2001, has been significantly re-designed as part of this agreement and will be made available to the millions of monthly visitors on the SOHU.com portal. As the official online presence for the Walt Disney Company China, Disney.com.cn contains the latest information and entertainment from Disney Mobile, Dragon Club TV, movies, home entertainment, publishing, music, consumer products, Disney On Ice and theme parks. The site also features online entertainment such as games and activities based on Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, The Lion King and the popular Princess collection. Apart from residing on Disney.com.cn, Disney content and additional branded content owned by Disney including promotional content from Touchstone Pictures, Miramax, Hollywood Pictures, ABC and ESPN will also be integrated throughout the SOHU.com site.
"China presents a very strong market opportunity for WDIG. Chinese consumers are very sophisticated in their adoption of technology and we're pleased to localize our portfolio of products and services for the fast growing Chinese Internet and wireless audience. It is great new entertainment for Chinese users to discover," said Mark Handler, executive vice president and managing director for WDIG's international operations. "We spent a considerable amount of time analyzing the market and believe we have found a great operational and creative fit with the outstanding team at SOHU."
"This agreement combines Disney's exciting products with SOHU.com's online and wireless business lines and we are very pleased to work with Disney as they expand their presence in the Chinese Internet market. By introducing Disney's products to SOHU's users, we will enhance the entertainment value to our consumers in what is potentially the largest consumer market of the 21st century," said Charles Zhang, Chairman and CEO of SOHU.com.
Internet usage in China, where currently 68 million people are online, is growing particularly fast in homes and in schools, according to the semi- annual CNNIC surveys. As the Internet penetrates a younger audience in China, the demand for trustworthy quality entertainment with educational value is growing. Disney's online website produces on-line activities that are fun and entertaining for kids while simultaneously promoting valuable information and skills.
The mobile phone market in China reached 250 million subscribers at the end of September 2003, with an estimated two-thirds using messaging service on their handsets. The mobile phone market is expected to surpass 355 million subscribers by the end of 2005 (source: BDA China, 2003). In 2002, value-added service mobile messaging in China generated US$320 million in revenues, which are expected to grow to US$3.3 billion in 2006 (source: China Online SMS Research Report, iResearch, August 2003).
"Our cooperation with Disney will be an advantage in making SOHU a strong innovator in the promising wireless value-added industry. Chinese fans of Disney's animated characters overlap to a large extent with the young demographics of SOHU's wireless users. As we move from the black-and-white SMS age to the MMS color screen age, Disney's rich products help us differentiate in a growing market as consumers demand more exciting, relevant and branded content," said Victor Koo, Chief Operating Officer of SOHU.com.
SOHU.com [Kurs/Chart] is one of China's most recognized and established Internet brands and indispensable to the daily life of millions of Chinese who use the portal for e-mail, alumni club, short messaging services, news, search, games, browsing and shopping. Apart from continuous product and services development, SOHU.com also concentrates its efforts on making the Internet ubiquitously available, whether in the office, at home or on the road. SOHU.com, established by Dr. Charles Zhang, one of China's Internet pioneers, is in its seventh year of operation. More information is available on http://www.sohu.com/about/English/
About Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG)
Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG) provides strategic leadership and operational management for The Walt Disney Company's [Kurs/Chart] Internet properties including category leaders Disney.com, ESPN.com and ABCNEWS.com. A market leader in developing and distributing entertainment and informational content to new platforms, WDIG is committed to creating and delivering products for broadband distribution including: ABC News On Demand, a subscription video news service that offers the Internet's first 24-hour, live Internet-only news channel and top ABC News programs for on demand viewing; Disney Connection; and WDIG Motion, a proprietary video technology for broadband users. Through relationships with some of the world's largest wireless carriers, WDIG distributes content and services to wireless users under the Disney, ESPN and ABC brands. Additionally, WDIG has led the way in developing interactive content for televised programming through its Enhanced TV service. Steve Wadsworth is president of WDIG, which is headquartered in North Hollywood and has operations in Seattle, New York, Orlando, Fla., Tokyo and London.
Safe Harbor Statement
This announcement contains forward-looking statements. We may also make written or oral forward-looking statements in our periodic reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Forms 10-K, 10-Q, 8-K, etc., in our annual report to shareholders, in our proxy statements, in press releases and other written materials and in oral statements made by our officers, directors or employees to third parties. Statements that are not historical facts, including statements about our beliefs and expectations, are forward-looking statements. These statements are based on current plans, estimates and projections, and therefore you should not place undue reliance on them.
Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. We caution you that a number of important factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement. Potential risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, SOHU's historical and possible future losses, limited operating history, uncertain regulatory landscape in the People's Republic of China, fluctuations in quarterly operating results, and the company's reliance on online advertising sales, e-subscriptions (most of which are collected from a few telecom operators) and e-commerce for its revenues. Further information regarding these and other risks is included in SOHU's Annual Report on Form 10K for the year ended December 31, 2002, Quarterly Report on Form 10Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2003 and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.