For SimulTV, Chi­na­town pa­rade a chance to im­press po­ten­tial view­ers

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By JACK FREIFELDER in New York

jack­freifelder@chi­nadai­lyusa. com It was too good to pass up. SimulTV’s chance to take part in the 15th an­nual New York City Chi­na­town Lu­nar New Year pa­rade and fes­ti­val was “a prime op­por­tu­nity for us to bring the very best orig­i­nal Amer­i­can pro­gram­ming to China and vice versa,” founder and CEO Steven Turner told China Daily on Thurs­day.

The an­nual Lu­nar New Year celebration was or­ga­nized by Bet­ter Chi­na­town USA, a vol­un­teer- based or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to im­prov­ing New York’s Chi­na­town. It in­cluded tra­di­tional lion and dragon dances, floats, ice sculp­tures, march­ing bands and cul­tural per­for­mances.

Turner be­gan de­sign­ing SimulTV in 2004 to cre­ate the first plat­form that al­lows view­ers around the world to in­ter­act while watch­ing tele­vi­sion, with real-time video chat­ting and so­cial-me­dia chan­nels imbed­ded on one screen.

“Shar­ing an ex­pe­ri­ence” and “re­con­nect­ing fam­ily and friends” over great dis­tances are the main con­cepts be­hind SimulTV, Turner said.

“The so­cial me­dia bridges that gap even more,” he said. “It gives you so much power as a con­sumer, es­pe­cially in terms of reach­ing out and shar­ing that ex­pe­ri­ence.”

SimulTV sub­scribers can in­vite friends to join their net­work, set up view­ing cir­cles to watch the same pro­gram, and com­mu­ni­cate in real time through so­cial me­dia plat­forms such as Face­book and Twit­ter as they watch to­gether.

SimulTV al­lows users to “mul­ti­task in a fully in­te­grated sys­tem,” which Turner said “has never been done be­fore”.

Af­ter a cou­ple of soft launches in 2013 to get feed­back, a new and im­proved SimulTV re­launched on Jan 1, timed ac­cord­ingly with the in­tro­duc­tion of a new Chi­nese chan­nel — Huace .

Huace’s con­tent will join a SimulTV pro­gram lineup that in­cludes sports, mu­sic, movies, fash­ion events and tele­vi­sion shows from around the world.

Based in Hangzhou in China’s east­ern Zhejiang prov­ince, Huace is con­sid­ered one of China’s largest and most in­flu­en­tial pri­vate me­dia groups ded­i­cated to the pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion of Chi­nese films and tele­vi­sion dra­mas.

The Jan­uary launch was just stage one for SimulTV. Turner al­ready knows what the next step will be: a fo­cus on ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram­ming.

“We’re very proud of our kids chan­nels and fam­ily pro­gram­ming,” Turner said. “We’ve cre­ated three new kids chan­nels by uti­liz­ing con­tent from our part­ners. For chil­dren in China who want to learn English, th­ese chan­nels are ideal for them.”

How­ever, SimulTV is not the only en­ter­tain­ment provider look­ing to key in on the youth de­mo­graphic in China.

A syn­di­ca­tion dea l be­tween Vi­a­com Inc — the en­ter­tain­ment con­glom­er­ate that in­cludes Para­mount Pic­tures, Nick­elodeon, MTV and Com­edy Cen­tral — and Chi­nese online me­dia and mo­bile ser­vices leader Sohu. com went pub­lic at the end of De­cem­ber.

As part of the syn­di­ca­tion agree­ment, Sohu Video will of­fer more than 200 hours of Nick­elodeon pro­gram­ming through an online video-on-de­mand ser­vice to an au­di­ence of close to 400 mil­lion in China. Many pop­u­lar chil­dren’s shows will be dubbed into Man­darin and made avail­able at no charge in China for the next 12 months, ac­cord­ing to a post­ing on Vi­a­com’s web­site.

Nick­elodeon, now in its 15th year in Asia, is one of Vi­a­com’s most rec­og­nized brands in China.

Turner said the “most ben­e­fi­cial part of the ex­pe­ri­ence” in New York was the chance to get di­rect, face-to-face feed­back from spec­ta­tors.

“It was a tremen­dous ex­pe­ri­ence to have the op­por­tu­nity to meet so many in­di­vid­u­als in one lo­ca­tion at one time,” Turner said. “Get­ting that feed­back is key to our busi­ness and how we’re go­ing to evolve. I brought it to this point, but now I’m go­ing to let the users run with it to make sure we meet their de­mands.”

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