Regulators block Disney from entering China online video market

BEIJING—China is putting on ice an Alibaba partnership to bring Disney characters to Chinese screens, at a time when Chinese regulators are tightening control over online content.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

BABA, -0.29%

 said DisneyLife, an online content service it runs under a multiyear licensing agreement with Walt Disney Co.

DIS, +0.31%

is down for a service upgrade and that it is issuing customer refunds. A spokesman for Alibaba declined to elaborate. A Disney spokeswoman declined to comment, referring questions to Alibaba.

Disney’s service, part of the U.S. entertainment giant’s strategy to chart a digital future, was suspended at the request of Chinese regulators, two people familiar with the matter said.

This month, regulators also shut down Apple Inc.’s online book and movie services in the country, at the request of China’s video and publications regulator, according to people familiar with the matter. Apple said it was aiming to get the services up and running again as soon as possible.

Also read: China suspends Apple’s online book, movie services

Disney and Alibaba announced their joint project in December, kicking off sales of a Mickey Mouse-shaped connection device through Alibaba’s online shopping site Tmall.

The device, priced at 799 yuan ($123), connects users to Disney content, such as films, cartoon series and games. It requires only an Internet connection.

An expanded version of this article is available at WSJ.com

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