Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) has completed the acquisition of South China Morning Post four months after opening talks. The Hong Kong-based media firm has since dropped a paywall on its website. Its online content will now be available free as the e-commerce giant tries to improve the English newspaper’s popularity. Pdf and print versions of the journal will remain subscription based.
Alibaba’s Growing Media Ecosystem
South China Morning Post becomes part of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA)’s ever-growing media ecosystem. The tech giant is hoping to use its media ecosystem to influence ‘West Perception of China’ by providing credible news. With all the content on the site now accessible for free the paper should be able to attract a global audience.
“With the paywall removal, it paves the way for the SCMP to grow its readership globally,” said Tammy Tam, editor in chief of the SCMP.
The media company has already launched an upgraded mobile app as part of ongoing changes that seeks to attract a bigger audience. Some of the new features rolled out include deep linking from social media as well as search personalization and fast load times.
The new mobile app perfectly rhymes with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA)’s push of becoming a mobile-first company. Mobile already represents a majority of the company’s business as more people in China continue to access content through smartphones.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) says it will not in any way influence the newspaper’s operation amidst growing concerns in Hong Kong about the same. SCMP is one of the few local newspapers in China yet to fall victim of Beijing’s notorious censorship. The e-commerce giant executive chair Joe Tsai says their primary goal is to monetize the newspaper rather than influence how it operates.
The acquisition of SCMP was an interesting one as it followed a similar path taken by Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) CEO, Jeff Bezos, on the acquisition of Washington Post. The two takeovers all but highlight how traditional newspapers are being forced to turn to tech giants to guarantee their survival in an age of the internet.