New Report on Online Video in Asia

Mike Walsh, trendspotter, digital futurist and researcher, has just posted on his blog a summary and videos relating to a research project he’s just completed for CASBAA, the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia, on online video in Asia.  It makes fascinating reading (and watching). The emphasis is on the power of audiences; the second video ends with the statement that “Audiences not media moguls will reinvent the experience of television”.

The videos are worth watching, so I’ve embedded them here for ease of access.  Below the videos is Mike’s summary of the highlights of his findings.

My take-aways from this were:

  • much lower % of UGC viewed and created in China, Korea and Japan than in US, Australia, UK
  • free is the norm, but “dealing with free will be the biggest challenge”. Online video sites and content producers getting around this in various ways. Tudou which claims to be the largest video sharing site in China, is ad supported “we introduced our video advertising system in 2007, where we show full screen pre-roll ads while the actual video loads as well as full screen wallpaper ads around the video during playback”, but they are negotiating licences with content producers.
  • average time spent on an online video site is c.1 hour, (according to one of Tudou founders) compared with c.7-12 mins for YouTube.
  • most people (in China) find out about online videos through Instant Messaging from friends (email is much less widely used than in the west)
  • a recent Chinese movie, Red Cliff, was released through all the online video download sites in China on a unique format that forces users to watch ads before the movie. That is, it was ad-supported

Part One

Part Two

Here are a few of the insights from the report:

1. The Internet has become a primary entertainment destination.
For young Asian consumers, the Internet is entertainment – particularly in China. A survey by the China Youth Daily and Sina in January 2008 indicated that more than 80% of young Chinese placed the Web as their primary source of entertainment compared to TV, at 66%.

2. Social discovery drives the popularity of content rather than traditional programming or marketing campaigns.
When it comes to the discovery of content – blogs, referrals through instant messaging clients, BBS boards, and top ten lists on video sharing sites have the most influence. In China, according to the CNNIC 63.7%, of video content is discovered through social connections, 94.1% of this sharing taking pace instant message tools such as QQ and MSN.

3. Long form professional content is the most popular format
Although the West is just now getting a taste of long form video on the web, in Asia it has been the most popular format for a while. 86.3% of the online video watched by Chinese netizens is either studio created films or TV shows. In Korea, 47% of users had illegally downloaded at least 55 movies a year, or more than one a week.

4. Audiences actively participate in content experiences
In Japan, the most popular video sharing site is Nico Nico Douga (Smiley Smiley Video) attracts almost a billion page views a month. The most distinctive feature of the site is an on-screen commenting function, where user messages scroll as commentaries across the video while playing like a form of visual karaoke.

5. Consumption is communal
Asian teenagers enjoy being online together. China has about 113,000 licensed Cyber Cafes, with many more operating illegally while in Korea, despite strong home broadband connections, most youth prefer to socialise in one of the 26,000 PC Baangs.

6. User anonymity is important
One of the major differences between Western and Eastern online users is the importance of privacy and anonymity. Most Japanese online users prefer to use imaginary names and cartoon avatars rather than photos to represent themselves while in China, much of the attraction of bulletin board systems is the ability to post comments without revealing your actual identity. YouTube in Japan after attempting to encourage greater amounts of user generated content is now focused on the more culturally acceptable practice of uploading cute pet videos.

7. Local brands dominate the online video landscape
For both cultural and technical reasons, local video sharing sites in Asia have generally been more successful than foreign players such as YouTube. In Japan, Nico Nico Douga is very popular, in Korea the dominant site is PandoraTV while in China, the top two sites are Youku and Todou.

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2 Responses

  1. thanks for this really interesting post.

    From the advertising angle, there’s a lot here also about “the power of recommendation” i.e. on the pirate sites that are supported by advertisers, and where programs end up being recommended on peer group homepages. The lesson here seems to be the skill to follow the user group’s online behaviour. The short clips don’t analyse how effective the advertising’s been (outside one leading brand), but it seems there is less concern about its presence than with western social media sites. I’m speculating, this may be related to the much lower levels of user generated content transacted on the Asian sites, or cultural differences in perceptions of the role advertising plays in the media experience.

    The Japanese site Nico Nico Douga sounds really palyful where you can scroll messages as commentaries across the programs.

  2. loved watching and reading this post. thanks for posting it.

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