Enjoy entertainment for free, while you can
Aquestion for all TV or film buffs: Which streaming websites are your favorites? There are now quite a number of video sites that vie with each other for viewers, offering us the chance to watch their shows at any time, and anywhere.
For connoisseurs of hot TV dramas, video streaming is probably the best thing that has happened in years, because it allows them to binge onMad orHouse
or any other shows with commercial breaks slightly longer than one minute between episodes — a welcome break for many to stand up, stretch their legs or just rest their eyes for a while.
For those into film, the choice is also varied, with sites charging around 4 to 5 yuan (65 to 81 cents) per title for newreleases. Viewers who don’t want to pay can check out hundreds of old films at no cost. And browsing to find a film you actually want to watch, while not easy, is also possible.
I hesitate to mention the names ofmy favorite video sites, but I do like a couple of Chinese providers who make it easy for me to find a good, free film from their archives, while keeping me abreast of popular TV shows.
Most importantly, they entertain me on the move.
Over the past month I have traveled regularly by high-speed train and I’ve managed to consume the final season ofMadMen, and the first season of the Amazon series
It’s a delight to be spared advertising when you watch downloads, making the experience all-the-more intense, allowing even long rides to fly by as you lose yourself in storylines.
Around me, I sawthat others too were watching shows, on laptops likeme and portable media devices like smartphones and tablets.
I was not sure how many were fellow non-payers, but I was confident I was not alone.
Surveys have shown that fewer than 30 percent of Chinese streaming viewers, who now total hundreds of millions, are willing to pay for shows on their device, with most preferring entertainment that costs nothing as they are supported by advertising.
I often wonder why we are happy to down several beers at 5 yuan each on a train ride, while scrimping on relatively newfilms for the same money.
It could have something to do with the modern Chinese psyche that information on the Internet should be free. Several first-generation Chinese Internet sites have achieved ameteoric rise by lifting traditional media content at dirt cheap prices or even for free.
Viewers have also benefited from growing competition among sites, some of which have spent billions of dollars acquiring content. While some sites push for subscription or pay-per-viewmodels, there are always others that want to capture larger market shares by offering free content.
And fewsites have ever produced good, original content likeNetflix to make their products unique and sustainable.
The recent claims by some video site owners that they’ll charge for domestic television shows have only attracted scorn from critics, who consider such plans a “joke”.
Last week, the e-commerce giant Alibaba said it wanted to become China’s HBO and Netflix and to “redefine entertainment” by buying content from production houses at home and overseas.
It will create its own productions too, such as movies, provided on a subscription-based platform, with 90 percent of its content only available to viewers who pay.
Perhaps Alibaba with its deep pockets andmaverick boss will be the game changer in the increasingly competitive video streaming sector.
Maybe it will soon convertme and the millions of other “free riders” who have so far avoided paying for good entertainment, if we are convinced the Internet is no longer the place to find something for nothing. Contact the writer at email@example.com