Chinese video streaming services flourish with homegrown content

China 24

YouTube, Netflix and Amazon are some of the world’s biggest platforms for video streaming.

But those sites are not accessible in China. And that’s enabled domestic services to flourish.

As CGTN’s Gerald Tan reports, they’ve proven to be a source of wildly popular shows.

‘Story of Yanxi Palace’ is a lavish period drama which fictionalizes the rise of an 18th Century concubine during the Qing dynasty. It is now the most Googled show on earth, despite the search engine being blocked in China.

The series premiered on streaming service iQiyi, often called Chinese Netflix. A record-smasher, it’s been viewed more than 21 billion times on the site alone.

Streaming video is the present and future of entertainment in China. With a thriving digital generation more willing and able to pay for content, there’s big money involved.

China’s streaming business is currently dominated by three players. iQiyi, which is owned by internet giant Baidu, is locked in a fierce race with Tencent, the tech company behind WeChat.

Both boast about 530-million monthly active users. iQiyi has 96.8 million paying subscribers vs. the 89 million of Tencent Video. They’re trailed by Alibaba’s popular platform Youku Tudou, which does not disclose its subscriber figures.

But producing cinema-quality content doesn’t come cheap; subscriber fees and ad-sales alone aren’t enough. So many streaming companies are going public.

Tang Zhehui, an assurance partner at Ernst and Young, explains, “It is a choice made to solve their financing problems. Given that the costs of video streaming sites are quite high, these companies are suffering from deficits for now.”

China’s streaming services remain undaunted. They’re investing in a market they believe is largely untapped, churning out shows with domestic appeal, and banking on clicks turning into cash.

James Sung on the rise of video streaming services in China

CGTN’s Elaine Reyes speaks to tech entrepreneur James Sung about the rise of streaming video services in China.