Sohu takes a 6 per­cent stake in Keyeast

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By SHI JING in Shang­hai shi­jing@chi­

Chi­nese In­ter­net com­pany Inc an­nounced on Thurs­day that it will in­vest $15 mil­lion in South Korean artist man­age­ment agency Keyeast Co Ltd to be­come its sec­ond-largest share­holder.

Sohu will hold 6 per­cent of Keyeast and be­come Keyeast’s ex­clu­sive In­ter­net part­ner in China.

Founded in 2006, Keyeast rep­re­sents a num­ber of cel­e­brated ac­tors and ac­tresses, in­clud­ing Kim Soo-hyun, who starred in the hit TV­drama My Love from the Star, and Bae Yong-joon, who still owns 29 per­cent of Keyeast’s stocks.

Keyeast said it chose Sohu as its part­ner in China be­cause of its di­ver­si­fied busi­ness port­fo­lio, which is what Keyeast has been seek­ing for years. Sohu’s strength in pub­lic­ity and its abun­dant re­sources will pro­vide strong sup­port for Keyeast to en­ter China.

“We­may have the pre­emp­tive right to buy the works pro­duced by this com­pany in the fu­ture. Keyeast will pro­vide Sohu op­por­tu­ni­ties to get in­volved in the re­port­ing in South Korea. When their artists come to China, Sohu will be able to pro­vide up­dates on our on­line entertainment news. China is such a larger mar­ket than SouthKorea that Keyeast’s works will be able to sell at a nice price,” said Charles Zhang, chair­man and CEO of Sohu.

TV dra­mas from theUnited States used to be Sohu’s fo­cus. How­ever, as the govern­ment tight­ens its con­trol over US TV dra­mas broad­cast on video web­sites, Sohu is at­tach­ing more im­por­tance to pop­u­lar South Korean TV dra­mas, ac­cord­ing to Hao Xi, an an­a­lyst at En­tGroup Con­sult­ing.

Pang Yiming, an an­a­lyst with re­search com­pany Analysys In­ter­na­tional, agreed that South Korean TV dra­mas and entertainment pro­grams are win­ning over the Chi­nese au­di­ence, es­pe­cially the younger gen­er­a­tion.

As a re­sult, Baidu Inc an­nounced in May a strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion with S.M. Entertainment Co Ltd, which is also from South Korea, to help with the li­cens­ing of the lat­ter com­pany’s copy­righted mu­sic and videos in the Chi­nese main­land.

How­ever, Pang still urged on­line video web­sites to come up with more creative ideas other than com­pet­ing for copy­rights or com­mer­cials.

“With the rise of mo­bile users, video web­sites should come to un­der­stand that they can be more than a con­tent provider. We re­ally look for­ward to this co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Sohu and Keyeast to breed more creative at­tempts,” she said. Wu Han andMeng Jing con­trib­uted to this story.

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