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(Update: Netflix denies any partnership) LeEco's grand plans to take over the world
Original post, August 4: They were once known as the “Netflix of China,” but today that moniker is seeming increasingly inaccurate. LeEco dominated the video streaming industry in its country of origin, but unlike Netflix, which seems pretty chill remaining in the business of content catering, LeEco has decided they have things to do and places to go.
“What things and which places?” you might ask. Put simply: everywhere and everything.
LeEco was originally called Letv, which is an apt enough name for a streaming company. However, once they started branching out into the fields of TVs, smartphones, Android powered bikes, smart homes, and autonomous vehicles, they adopted a name more representative of the kind of technological ecosystems they were building.
To give you an idea of the kind of long-term planning these folks are laying down, LeEco has ambitions to produce an Uber competitor that uses fully driverless cars that users can summon from an app. While en route to their destination, users will have the company’s streaming service at their fingertips for entertainment.
You might remember hearing about these guys when they bought all of flippin’ Vizio last week to the tune of $2 billion. The idea is that owning Vizio’s US distribution infrastructure and marketing acumen will give them a foothold in the states while simultaneously giving the Vizio brand an inroad to the Chinese market.
You might remember hearing about these guys when they bought all of flippin’ Vizio to the tune of $2 billion.
But this is not their first major move in the US. Earlier this year they opened an 80,000 square foot facility in San Jose to serve as their North American HQ. After that, they bought 48.6 acres from Yahoo in Santa Clara for further US development. They’ve announced that they’re bringing smartphones and video streaming state-side by the end of the year.
Complicating things is LeEco’s CEO Jia Yueting. Those who are familiar with the antics of T-Mobile’s John Legere will recognize the combative and polarizing style of this company leader. Clearly a strong personality, Jia Yueting is a controversial figure who has compared Apple to Nazis and called the iPhone maker “outdated.”
LeEco says they are currently in talks with Netflix regarding future cooperation (see update box above for Netflix’s response to the claim). We’re not certain what form that would take, considering LeEco is posed to act as a major competitor for the streaming giant on the global playing field.
LeEco’s clear interest in the western market would seem to pit the two streamers against each other, but as Ken Warner of Display Daily observes, it might be the case that Netflix would want to partner with LeEco to distribute dubbed versions of their content in China.
LeEco’s plans in the west aren’t particularly clear right now. The intent is obvious – I mean hell, they’re buying up land and companies and building offices – but we’re still waiting to see exactly what kind of presence the company is hoping to establish on US soil. More information should be forthcoming this fall when LeEco plans on officially announcing their US presence, but in the meantime, all we can do is speculate.
What are your thoughts regarding LeEco’s take on manifest destiny? Have they cast their chips too widely to be a truly major player in all of the markets they’re attempting to engage, or are they scheming up something truly big? Let us know your projections in the comments below.