A great post by Patrik from Made by Many about the untapped potential for western brands in this gargantuan market. Click here to read it.
I went to a talk at Channel 4 a few months ago called ‘Is China the next media superpower?’ A television producer was on the panel who was responsible for bringing the American Idol format to China. She explained that there were many western formats that would work well in China, the ones that they had bought the rights to so far were extremely successful. There were two problems though, other networks in China were creating ‘copy cat’ programs and there was not a great deal of legislation to stop them.
Secondly, the political landscape of this vast country prohibits popular western shows from being recreated. The example used was the BBC’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ In China, the idea of tracing ones family tree isn’t as simple as it sounds. People here still operate under the watchful eye of the state. Remember, whilst the country is seeing dramatic urbanization and wealth creation, Google doesn’t/won’t operate here, internet usage is monitored and speaking out against the government is a massive no-no. You may want to read about the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei who did so and was imprisoned. Find out about him here.
Westerners setting up TV production companies, social media agencies and creating a brand presence in China will no doubt have a lot to learn about the intricacies of Chinese life, but the overwhelming feeling from the panel was that yes, it could be the next media superpower. There is certainly a lot of money to be made, China has adapted itself to become the global hub for manufacturing, property prices are booming and it has the single biggest online user base in the world. Will it’s censorship also impede it’s media growth? Judging by the country’s rapid rise despite censorship, it doesn’t look like it.