China’s grow­ing foot­print in for­eign con­tent

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By YU RAN in Shang­hai

yu­ran@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Chi­nese en­ter­prises look­ing to ac­quire the copy­rights to for­eign pro­grams will tend to fo­cus on pro­fes­sional knowl­edge and tech­nol­ogy-based ones, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est re­port from Raine Group, an in­vest­ment bank­ing ad­vi­sory firm.

Driven by a de­mand for con­tent, an in­creas­ing num­ber of Chi­nese com­pa­nies and tele­vi­sion chan­nels have been buy­ing the rights to fa­mous over­seas re­al­ity TV shows in or­der to recre­ate lo­cal­ized ver­sions for Chi­nese au­di­ences.

A prime ex­am­ple is the mas­sively pop­u­lar TheVoice ofChina, adapted from the TheVoice­ofHol­land, a singing com­pe­ti­tion pro­gram that orig­i­nated in the Nether­lands in 2010.

Star China had in 2012 ac­quired the rights to use the for­mat from owner Talpa Global and the three-year rights deal had cost the Chi­nese com­pany 3.5 mil­lion yuan ($540,000). The move was a highly prof­itable one for Star China as it has since earned more than 1 bil­lion yuan an­nu­ally from the sec­ond year on­ward.

“Me­dia and en­ter­tain­ment is a large and ro­bust in­dus­try that has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing long-term sec­u­lar growth driven by the rise of the con­tent-hun­gry global mid­dle class and in­creas­ingly large vol­umes of new con­tent across an ex­pand­ing num­ber of gen­res,” said Deb­o­rah Mei, a part­ner in Raine Group.

Hav­ing wit­nessed the suc­cess of TheVoice­ofChina, Chi­nese tele­vi­sion com­pa­nies started a frenzy in 2014 that saw the in­tro­duc­tion of sev­eral shows in­clud­ing Hu­nan TV’s Di­vasHit­theRoad, Zhe­jiang TV’s Run­ningMan and Shen­zhen TV’s TheA­maz­ing Race. The boom con­tin­ued in 2015 when Hu­nan TV

Deb­o­rah Mei, launched an­other show called Won­der­fulFriends in Jan­uary, while Jiangsu TV and Dragon TV in­tro­duced WeAreinLove in May, and GoFight­ing in June re­spec­tively.

Many of th­ese Chi­nese shows, which con­tent range from out­door ac­tiv­i­ties to travel and re­la­tion­ships, lever­age the ap­peal of celebri­ties such as iconic singers, movie stars, sports fig­ures and yes­ter­year en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try lu­mi­nar­ies in or­der to fur­ther to boost rat­ings.

The pop­u­lar­ity of re­al­ity TV shows has in turn spurred on­line video plat­forms to pro­duce their own ver­sions rather than spend sig­nif­i­cant amounts of money to ac­quire the we­b­cast rights. Lead­ing on­line play­ers such as Youku Tu­dou Inc, iQiyi.com, Ten­cent Hold­ings Ltd and LeTV Hold­ings Ltd have also sought to dis­tin­guish their re­al­ity shows by fea­tur­ing ev­ery­day peo­ple in­stead of celebri­ties as the lead char­ac­ters.

Ac­cord­ing to Mei, on­line plat­forms dif­fer from the tele­vi­sion medium as they of­fer more in­ter­ac­tion with au­di­ences, rel­a­tively more lib­eral cen­sor­ship and a wider scope for part­ner­ships with ad­ver­tis­ers.

“Go­ing on­line is the fu­ture in terms of at­tract­ing more au­di­ences, who will very soon be com­pletely in­ter­net and mo­bile tech­nol­ogy users,” said Mei.

In the film sec­tor, cross­bor­der co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Chi­nese com­pa­nies and Hol­ly­wood film­mak­ers have been grow­ing, as ev­i­denced by The Sixth An­nual US-China Film Sum­mit, which was held on Nov 5, 2015 in Los An­ge­les, Cal­i­for­nia at the Dorothy Chan­dler Pav­il­ion. Big names from China’s movie in­dus­try, such as Zhang Yi­mou and Zhang Zhao, were in at­ten­dance at the event that touched on glob­al­iz­ing China’s film in­dus­try as well as fu­ture col­lab­o­ra­tions with its Hol­ly­wood coun­ter­parts.

Most re­cently, Chi­nese com­mer­cial property con­glom­er­ate Dalian Wanda Corp was the sole fi­nancier of the 2015 Hol­ly­wood movie South­paw, which had a $30 mil­lion pro­duc­tion bud­get. China Film Group, the coun­try’s largest film pro­ducer and dis­trib­u­tor, also helped fi­nance the ac­tion com­edy Pix­els, while the block­buster Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble-RogueNa­tion saw China’s Alibaba Group making its first-ever US film in­vest­ment.

“In­ter­net gi­ants are trans­form­ing the in­dus­try. From 2014 to 2015, film-re­lated in­vest­ments from Alibaba and Ten­cent were worth $7.6 bil­lion, equiv­a­lent to the to­tal 2014 film and new me­dia merger and ac­qui­si­tion trans­ac­tion value in China,” said Mei.

“China is in­ter­ested in cre­ativ­ity and pro­duc­tion qual­ity while Hol­ly­wood is at­tracted by the scale of China’s do­mes­tic mar­ket and its growth. Such col­lab­o­ra­tive projects form a win-win op­por­tu­nity for Hol­ly­wood stu­dios and their Chi­nese coun­ter­parts,” added Mei.

“Go­ing on­line is the fu­ture in terms of at­tract­ing more au­di­ences, who will very soon be com­pletely in­ter­net and mo­bile tech­nol­ogy users.”

Group

a part­ner in Raine

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