Internet videos: a blow, also an opportunity, to China' s TV industry

13:20, August 10, 2010      

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Zhang Minxiao, owner of a trading company in east China' s Jiangsu Province, has not turned on a television since 2008. Instead, the 29-year-old business man now spends more than 20 hours every week watching programs on the Internet, often sports games.

"I enjoyed watching my favorite programs any time I like. I watched nearly 50 matches of this year' s World Cup on the Internet," said the busy entrepreneur, who was also a die-hard fan of Argentina.

Zhang said Chinese TV viewers would not have access to programs produced outside the Chinese mainland, unless they paid extra fees for satellite TV channels. However, online video sites provide more choices, notably, for free.

"A great attraction of watching serials on the Internet is that you'll not be bothered by the interminable advertisement that is broadcast every 15 minute during an episode," Zhang said. He began watching online videos in 2003.

For Zhao Yayuan, a 25-year-old enthusiast of American and Japanese soap operas, the limited number of serials broadcast on television cannot feed her growing appetite.

"Chinese TV stations just broadcast old serials again and again," said Zhao, who worked for the Beijing-based China Today.

Zhao spends her leisure time hunting for the latest episode of the hottest foreign serials on YOUKU and TUDOU, two popular video websites in China.

"The update of hit serials on such websites can be simultaneous or a one-day delay at most, compared with the broadcasting schedule of foreign TV channels. Besides, I can decide when and how many episodes to watch," Zhao said.

Zhang and Zhao are among many Chinese web users who prefer online videos for a wider selection of programs and a more flexible watching schedule.

By June 2010, the number of the Internet users in China had hit 420 million, according to a report issued by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).

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