Following our coverage of China's Facebook clones, our attention now turns to what one may originally have called YouTube clones (as that is very much the idea most were based on), but really it is more fair to treat them as stand-alone video sharing sites. These sites have done very well because of two key factors:
1) In the early days, YouTube and other international competitors were simply not fast enough at streaming video through the Great Firewall of China.
2) China's Internet was really built on the back of broadband technologies and so it pretty much skipped the slow dial-up Internet speeds much of the West had to start with.
These two factors combined essentially make China one big intranet, serving up most sites hosted within China at lightning speeds.
As you might expect from China's relatively relaxed copyright enforcement, many sites have had full episodes of popular national and international TV shows (Prison Break, So You Think You Can Dance, South Park etc.) and even full-length movies soon after their Western cinema debut (Kung Fu Panda and Iron Man among others) uploaded to them. The situation for Western studios is getting better, with the worst offending sites being closed down and others receiving warnings, but pirated content is still out there. To find out more about on-going on in China's video world, Danwei offers some great coverage. Most Chinese video sharing sites do also offer a wealth of other engaging content, including music videos, sports footage, video blogs and other personal video uploads. Chinese video sites have also helped catch those allegedly engaging in illegal activity as captured by video-capable mobile phone uploads.
There are of course many many such sites, but some of the biggest independent (i.e. separate of the big portals) ones are Youku (优酷网), Tudou (土豆网) and 56 (56网). Note: You should be able to access these sites from outside of China, but expect video streaming to be as slow as it makes its way though the Great Firewall.
Unlike YouTube, Chinese video sites were very quick to try and monetize themselves. They see no issue with surrounding playing videos with banner or background ads or running video/interactive advertisements before or after the videos people choose to watch. It does seem like quite a few international consumer brands are jumping at these opportunities, including Puma, BMW, Nokia and Coca Cola.
Find out more
ad:tech shanghai (November 25-26 2008) will feature a keynote panel on China's video landscape: Video Persuasion - The Cult and Culture of Video which features guests from OgilvyOne, Youku, Adidas and Menfond. Click here to find out more.