Site steps up content with new web serial

China’s biggest online video streaming site, Youku.com, is stepping up its online content with the announcement of its most ambitious Web serial yet, a toon called “Miss Puff.”

The series starts this month and will feature 104 seven-minute episodes over eight seasons, shown weekly to Youku’s online viewership of 280 million. China has 450 million Web users.

“Miss Puff” follows on from “Miss Puff’s Goldfish Bowl,” an animated short that bowed in November as part of Youku’s 11 Degrees New Media Film Project, a hyper-trendy online ad campaign featuring young urban Chinese to promote the Chevrolet Cruze.

The project was a partnership between Youku, GM and the China Film Group. The videos are between 10 and 20 minutes long and the project had a combined 84 million views.

Youku is effectively China’s answer to YouTube, which is banned in China. Youku recently paired up with Warner Bros. to stream “Inception” to Chinese webizens. In December, it listed on the New York Stock Exchange and stock rose 161% on their first day of trading.

“Miss Puff” was created by Beijing-based independent animator Pi San, and looks at the lives of young white-collar professionals through the eyes of its eponymous heroine.

The original shortie, which blends live action and animated characters, was viewed more than 5 million times and linked in roughly 2 million tweets, making it the most-tweeted of the 11 Degrees films.

The trailer for “Miss Puff’s Goldfish Bowl” has been viewed more than 220,000 times over the past week.

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