If you are a broadcaster or content provider looking to enter China’s digital market, do it now before your competitors take your place. This is advice from Toni Fang, who helped launch Chinese pubcaster CCTV’s first digital pay channels through its China DTV Production subsidiary.
Fang, now an acquisitions manager at China Television Media, a CCTV prodco, says, ‘If you don’t come to talk to broadcasters in China now, your competitor will.’ And that could cause problems since, like other broadcasters launching new platforms, Chinese channels won’t likely be interested in launching similar offerings on the same platform.
Another reason to consider China is its changing viewers. ‘The Chinese market is becoming diverse,’ says Fang. ‘Dramas are still dominant, but audiences want to see different kinds of programs, and docs are certainly one of the most important formats.’
The Chinese government is encouraging its television channels to make the transition to digital to follow the tendency of the global TV industry, says Fang. Analog is set to shut down in China in 2015, according to the country’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT). Also, the 2008 Beijing Olympics are going to be broadcast fully on digital in China, so the nation must be prepared.
There are currently an estimated 500,000 digital users in China (far below the 30 million sarft originally predicted would exist by now), and CCTV claims to have roughly 100,000 digital customers, with a goal to triple that by the end of the year.
From the original six digi channels CCTV launched last year, it now has nine, one of which is a doc offering called World Geographic. In this partnership, National Geographic Channel in the U.S. provides CCTV with programs and revenue shares. The name change is a reflection of Chinese regulations that prohibit foreign media groups from using their domestic monikers on Chinese channels.