LeEco part­ners with AT&T

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By HEZI JIANG in New York hez­i­jiang@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

LeEco an­nounced on Tues­day that it has en­tered a strate­gic part­ner­ship with Amer­i­can tele­com gi­ant AT&T that will in­clude it car­ry­ing the US com­pany’s DirecTV Now stream­ing ser­vice.

“Our US branch is still a startup, and we are still fo­cus­ing on lay­ing out our strat­egy rather than mak­ing a profit,” Ren Hongliang, CEO of LeEco North Amer­ica, said at a press con­fer­ence with Chi­nese me­dia out­lets in New York on Tues­day. “The part­ner­ship with AT&T is a mile­stone for us.”

LeEco, based in Bei­jing, was founded by CEO Jia Yuet­ing in 2004 as a Net­flix-style stream­ing video plat­form. It quickly be­came the largest on­line video and TV provider in China. LeEco sub­se­quently moved into con­tent production, smart tech­nol­ogy and elec­tric cars and ex­panded its mar­ket into the United States and In­dia.

Ren said the com­pany will still keep those lines of business de­spite Jia ad­mit­ting in a let­ter to em­ploy­ees ear­lier this month that the com­pany has overex­tended it­self fi­nan­cially.

LeEco is plan­ning a hol­i­day­sea­son pro­mo­tion in the US in which it will of­fer be­tween three and 12 months of com­pli­men­tary DirecTV Now ac­cess to cus­tomers who buy LeEco smart­phones and smart TVs from Dec 1 to Jan 5.

DirecTV Now, which starts at $35 per month, lets cus­tomers stream live pro­gram­ming on smart­phones, tablets and PCs. No ca­ble box is nec­es­sary, and no long-term com­mit­ments are re­quired.

“This pro­mo­tion is just the tip of the ice­berg,” Ren said. “AT&T is trans­form­ing from a tele­com com­pany to a con­tent provider. From con­tent to cloud to hard­ware, our part­ner­ship has a lot of po­ten­tial. It will be­come a com­pre­hen­sive co­op­er­a­tion.”

Roger Ent­ner, founder and lead an­a­lyst for Re­con An­a­lyt­ics in Ded­ham, Mas­sachusetts, sees the part­ner­ship as a win­win for both par­ties.

The part­ner­ship with AT&T is a mile­stone for us.” Ren Hongliang, CEO of LeEco North Amer­ica

“Chi­nese tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies have tra­di­tion­ally had a hard time work­ing with US tele­com providers. LeEco is the first Chi­nese com­pany to over­come that prob­lem and have a high-level, pub­lic part­ner­ship with a com­pany like AT&T,” he wrote to China Daily in an email.

“LeEco gets the largest Amer­i­can tele­com provider as a part­ner, who pro­vides them with a seal of ap­proval in the eye of Amer­i­can con­sumers who have never heard about LeEco be­fore.

“The part­ner­ship val­i­dates LeEco’s prod­ucts and ser­vices, whereas AT&T gets a part­ner with new ideas and ap­proaches to the in­te­grated tele­com and me­dia world as it tries to dis­rupt its US com­peti­tors,” he said.

“I view this as the be­gin­ning of a long-term, trusted part­ner­ship. I think we will talk a lot more about LeEco in the US go­ing for­ward,” Ent­ner said.

Ren said LeEco North Amer­ica hopes to build an open con­tent plat­form on which all con­tent providers are wel­come to open their own sites and reach the plat­form’s users.

He said the plat­form will be like Alibaba’s Taobao for entertainment con­tent.

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