Chinese VOD platform Youku has entered a deal with Endemol Shine Group that will see Endemol Shine China create and produce two new series for the Chinese market in 2018.
Under the deal, the focus will be on creating big-budget, high quality unscripted programming. Endemol Shine Group’s international creative talent will also contribute to the projects, across development, pilot and production consultancy, distribution and tech support. Youku, one of the main players in the fiercely competitive Chinese VOD market, will utilize its audience research system to provide audience feedback analysis throughout the development process.
“This is a great opportunity to partner with Youku to create original, authentic stories that will resonate in China, and have the potential to reach global audiences through Endemol Shine Group’s international network and distribution,” said Nicola Bamford, CEO of international operations at Endemol Shine Group, in a statement.
Yang Weidong (pictured), president of Youku, Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group, said: “Gone are the days where digital entertainment shows rely on imitating traditional linear channel shows. Digital entertainment shows will be the new engines of industry creativity.”
The Youku president gave a keynote presentation and a press roundtable interview at MIPTV on Monday (April 9), in which he elaborated upon Youku’s international partnership strategy, in which coproducing originals with major international players is a priority.
For the Endemol Shine partnership, Weidong said Youku will be able to exploit the resulting IP in China, while Endemol Shine will be able to do so for the rest of the world. “But in another case, it might be another solution,” he said.
With more than 500 million active monthly users, Weidong said the demographic for the service skews female, with a 60-40 ratio between female and male users, and a median age of 25. Claiming the competition in the market dwindled from six major players to three – Youku, Tencent and iQiyi – over the span of a few years, Yang said it’s more important than ever for the service to make aggressive moves to grow its audience, and its subscription numbers.
He added that its emphasis on Chinese content and investing in its production gives its an edge, while its connection to parent company and e-commerce giant Alibaba gives it major muscle in terms of IP franchising and merchandising capabilities.
While he wasn’t able to cite a dollar value for the amount of money the streaming platform plans to spend on original content and coproduction, he emphasized: “Coproducing originals is our priority.” Expanding its reach into the global market, a la Netflix, isn’t.
“In the coming several years, the global market is not our priority, because in the local markets, the competition is not over. There are still three major players.”