In 2006, the popularity of video sharing websites hit China with
their number sky-rocketing from 30 to over 300. However, with
unclear objectives in mind and little avenue for profits, around 90
percent of them will likely close before next year, insiders
Since it was first launched in February 2005 and then bought up
by Google for US$1.65 billion in October 2006, video sharing
website Youtube has changed the face of the Internet. Through it,
people are able to upload their own home videos, as well as movie
clips and music videos, to share with all and sundry online.
Chinese speculators did not stand idle and a number of Chinese
rivals surfaced overnight, which gave rise to some frantic
competition. Unfortunately, this soon led to burn-out from
under-funded new kids on the block such as UUme.com, whose parent
company Oak Pacific Interactive decided to choke off funding for it
in June, and others like Mysee.com sure to soon follow.
"For hundreds of domestic video sharing sites, most of them will
be gone in the future," said Wang Wei, the founder and CEO of
China's largest video web Tudou.com, when speaking to the
Oriental Morning Post Wednesday. He described these
failures as a natural phenomenon.
Gu Yongqiang, CEO of Youku.com, specified that the industry was
controlled by an intimate group of enterprises with strong funding,
giving the example of the US$15 million received by Youku in
venture financing last December.
Although the number of video sites in China has surpassed 300,
including podcasting, P2P downloading, video sharing, video
searching ones, industry insiders see it as a bubble that is ready
One analyst told the Post that many such sites lack vision
and are merely trying to emulate the Google-Youtube phenomenon, in
being acquired by a major company.
"Many friends of mine who also developed video web businesses are
suffering now," Wang Wei said. "Though Tudou.com secured its third
venture investment in April, other webs have little funding driving
them to closure."
The Post quoted the whole industry as having garnered 600
million yuan (US$78.9 million) in 2006. The top sides invested
over 100 million yuan (US$13.15 million) apiece into their
businesses, giving them low profit margins in an industry set to
blossom to 3.4 billion yuan (US$447 million) in domestic
annual revenue by 2010.
According to iResearch's statistics, since 2004, China's online
video industry has received US$120 million in venture
"To make a viable online video website, you need 100 million yuan
to start," said Gu Yongqiang, highlighting the huge costs
associated with this operation.
Gu said if competent websites want to be established in China's
complex Internet environment, pretenders must enhance the national
video-uploading-and-downloading system as well as severs and
bandwidth, a costly operation for small players.
TVix.cn's CEO Wu Bo also indicated that the operation cost of a
video web in China is even higher than it in the United States.
"We cannot learn much from American video sites," Wu said. "The
advertisement pricing tag on our webs is 1/80 or 1 percent of
American companies', but our operation cost is 4 times higher than
"If we wish to reach the traffic amount that Youtube has
reached, we would have to pay our telecom operators 240 million
yuan (US$31.56 million) every year, obliterating any profits," he
Wang Wei said his Tudou.com has just launched a new
advertisement system, but he does not envisage profits for a
further three years.
(China.org.cn by Zhang Rui, July 6, 2007)