Key Takeaways from the CCI Guide to Streaming Platforms in China

Content Commerce Insider, the leading source of news and insights into how brands create content to drive revenue, released its new report, Guide to Streaming Platforms in China, detailing the seven leading platforms, emerging industry trends, and expectations for 2020. As the spread of COVID-19 locked down China (and ultimately much of the world), many Chinese citizens found themselves housebound amid the strictly enforced restrictions. Given this, streaming platforms became not only a popular escape for entertainment and games, but also a valuable resource for the latest news about the ongoing pandemic. This resulted in a surge in demand for livestream platforms during this period.

Now, however, as China begins its post-COVID-19 recovery, they’re exploring new ways to continue their reach and popularity during the “new normal” by innovating and experimenting with productions, commerce, and advertising models that could influence China’s vast livestreaming market for years to come. And CCI’s report, which is packed with case studies and profiles of major players in Chinese video streaming, also includes important takeaways for brands on how to create winning strategies for the market in the uncertain year ahead.

The playing field in streaming video is getting crowded. With none of China’s major streaming sites having a market share comparable to Netflix’s 87% in the US, the market consists of more traditional established entities (iQiyi, Youku, Tencent) and newer or more diversified entrants (Mango TV, Bilibili, and Bytedance’s Xigua Video) entrants, each with its relative strengths and weaknesses.

Among the major platforms, content strategies are converging as they invest more in original productions, jumping on the latest domestic programming trends (often at the same time).

Short video platforms are investing in long-form, higher-quality content. Earlier this year, Bytedance (parent company of Douyin/TikTok) partnered with film studio Huanxi Media to debut the comedy “Lost in Russia” for free online, following the cancellation of the film’s theatrical debut as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Bytedance offered a vast user base to distribute Huanxi’s big-budget production, drawing more than 600 million views within the first three days of the movie’s release — alarming rival studios and theater owners in the process.

Streaming platforms seek to boost subscriber revenues through added fees for early access to top content. Although controversial when introduced in 2019 by iQiyi and Tencent Video, recent months have shown that devoted audiences are willing to pay for early “VIP” access to new episodes of their favorite series or films.

Shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, the “new normal” in Chinese streaming video has major global implications. Many trends that have developed and been refined in recent months in China, including “cloud living” content and livestreaming, are picking up steam worldwide, and China’s rapid development of successful new “content commerce” models offer lessons for brand managers in the luxury, consumer goods, and automotive sectors.

The CCI Guide to Streaming Platforms in China is available for download here.

Content Commerce Insider is the leading source of news and insights into how brands create content to drive revenue — from product placement and sponsorships to brand-funded documentaries, livestreamed e-commerce, and celebrity and influencer collaborations.

Part of the Jing Group (Jing Daily, Jing Travel, China Film Insider) the influential digital publication network covering the China luxury, film, and travel markets, and with staff in Beijing, Austin, New York, and Madrid, Content Commerce Insider is at the forefront as the multi-billion-dollar content commerce industry continues its exponential worldwide growth and evolution.

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