You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Alibaba’s Yang Weidong Underscores Importance of Original Content for Youku

Yang Weidong, president of China’s Alibaba Digital Media & Entertainment Group and its streaming service Youku, underscored the importance of producing more original content for Youku, and the need to grow its subscription revenue during a keynote speech on Monday at TV market and conference MipTV in Cannes, France.

The Chinese streaming market is huge, with around 579 million online video users, 8% of the global market, Yang said, but it is intensely competitive, with three players, Youku, Tencent and iQIYI, dominating the market. Innovation was key to growing Youku’s subscriber base with users demanding “new ideas” delivered with “great imagination.” “It creates a fantastic opportunity for our industry. More and more users are willing to pay for high-quality content,” he said.

Yang said each Chinese internet user spent on average 100 minutes a day watching online video and paid subscription revenues in China rose 100% last year on the previous year.

He said that rather than seeking a mass audience Youku sought to target particular groups using a combination of data collection and artificial intelligence, an approach he summarized as Hollywood meets Silicon Valley. Accurate search and personalized recommendation tools for content was key. “If they cannot find their content quickly they’ll give up, move on and leave our site,” he said. “AI and data can bridge the gap between users and content. They help us to define consumers, identify their needs and guide content creation and distribution.”

He championed a personalized approach to production. “Different groups consume different content and they want to watch tailor-made content that matches their tastes and interests,” he said. “In order to capture their attention we need to tailor our shows to surpass their expectations through new visual esthetics and by adopting new [forms of expression].” Sixty percent of Youku’s users are women and the median age is 25, so it appeals to a young, mainly female audience, he said.

In recent years, Youku has moved into the production of original shows like “Street Dance of China,” an urban dance competition show, and “Day and Night,” a gritty detective drama that was acquired by Netflix worldwide last year.

In order to drive its growth in original content the company is looking to co-produce with international companies, as it intends to do through its recently announced deal with Endemol Shine for unscripted shows.

However, he saw drama series as being the main means by which it would drive streaming subscriptions. This would be done by focusing on “more complicated story lines,” fast-paced programming, and long-running series that encourage subscriber loyalty, he said.

Yang said his ambition was for original content to represent more than half the content on Youku.

Yang said the company’s focus was on the Chinese streaming market, and not on expansion into foreign markets, although he added in a press interview later that the Chinese diaspora in the Asia-Pacific region would be its first priority if it expanded abroad.

More Digital

  • Lester Holt

    Chris Berend Tapped to Oversee NBC News' Digital Efforts

    Chris Berend, an executive who has been overseeing digital video for CNN and helped launch Great Big Story, a streaming-video site aimed at younger audiences, will jump to NBC News to lead its digital efforts. Berend will replace Nick Ascheim, who will move into a new role that is described as “improving digital and product [...]

  • Vogue, Conde Nast Entertainment Make Robert

    Robert Semmer Joins Condé Nast Entertainment & Vogue as Vice President of Video

    Condé Nast Entertainment and Vogue have named former Vice and Fader video executive Robert Semmer as their new vice president of video. Semmer will be based in New York and report to Croi McNamara, senior vice president of programming for Condé Nast Entertainment. “Anna and I are thrilled to welcome Robert to our award-winning video [...]

  • CEO of T-Mobile John Legere (L)

    FCC Chairman Backs T-Mobile, Sprint Merger With New Conditions

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai gave a thumbs-up to T-Mobile and Sprint’s proposed $26 billion merger, after the companies committed to enhanced 5G buildout commitments and agreed to spin off Sprint’s Boost Mobile. T-Mobile and Sprint first announced their plans to merge in April 2018, looking to combine forces to take on industry leaders AT&T and [...]

  • Tyffon Raises $7.8M, Prepares Launch of

    Disney-Backed VR Startup Tyffon Raises $7.8 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Disney-backed immersive media startup Tyffon has raised a new $7.8 million Series A round of funding. The company wants to use the new cash infusion for an international expansion that includes the opening of a Santa Monica, Calif.-based virtual reality (VR) center. “We will also accelerate our IP licensing activities with major Hollywood studios,” Tyffon [...]

  • Huawei Restricted From Using Google's Android

    Huawei Restricted From Using Google's Android as U.S.-China Tensions Mount

    Google has prevented controversial Chinese tech firm Huawei from accessing the latest versions of the Android mobile phone operating system. The move follows U.S. government attempts to blacklist the Chinese firm. “We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications,” Google sources told news agencies Sunday. “Huawei will only be able to use the [...]

  • JUMP camera

    Google Is Shutting Down Its Jump VR Video Program

    Google will shut down Jump, its cloud-based video stitching service, this summer. The company emailed creators Friday afternoon to tell them that Jump would be shuttered on June 28, and detailed plans for the shut-down on its website as well. In its email, Google justified the closure of Jump with the emergence of new video [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content