Chinese wireless-Internet company Tom Online Inc., seeking to diversify its revenue stream and beef up its content offerings, said it signed an exclusive deal with the online arm of Warner Bros. to distribute the Hollywood movie studio's Web content to China's vast base of mobile phone users.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Through the deal, Tom Online, based in Beijing, hopes to give its 60 million wireless users access to services such as ring tones, animation and online games involving Warner Bros. movies and cartoon characters, officials said.
Warner Bros., part of New York media company Time Warner Inc., is behind such movies as the recently released "Batman Begins" and the upcoming "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."
Tom Online, which runs an Internet portal and specializes in beaming entertainment and messages to wireless phones, said it would be the "sole wireless and the premier Internet distribution partner" for Warner Bros. Online in China.
Tom Online and Warner Bros. Online also said they launched an official Chinese-language Web site for Warner Bros. Studios, featuring cartoon characters such as Bugs Bunny and Scooby-Doo. Tom Online is a unit of Tom Group Ltd.
The deal will give Tom Online "exclusive access to the existing library and future library of Warner Bros.," Jay Chang, Tom Online's deputy chief financial officer, said in an interview. He said using mobile phones to legitimately sell the movie studio's content also would help Warner Bros. make money despite movie and product piracy in China.
China has more than 330 million mobile phone users, many of whom use services such as Tom Online's to download games and other forms of entertainment to their phones, instead of to PCs. Jim Noonan, senior vice president and general manager of Warner Bros. Online, said in a news release that working with Tom Online "will enable us to maximize both promotional and revenue-generating opportunities" for the studio's content in China.
Tom Online is trying to find new sources of revenue after a recent government crackdown in China on certain types of wireless content and aggressive billing practices by mobile-content companies. Tom Online's revenue for the first quarter rose 36 percent from a year earlier, but just 2 percent from the fourth quarter.