What Sells In China: The Tencent Percent

Success upon success; there’s no stopping Green Gold Animation

“Tencent is the one of the biggest internet providers of comprehensive services, which is also one of the biggest internet enterprises with its affiliated diversified service contents. Tencent Video has become a leading online video media platform in China, integrating hit films and TV, including variety entertainment, sports and events, news and information. By Q3 of 2017, the number of its active users at the mobile end has reached 137 million and that of its paid members is expected to reach 62.59 million by the end of February, 2018.

“If there is no end, there is no absolute top runner. Nevertheless, we will continue running on the industrial route without being influenced. It is because the persistent acknowledgement and support from our users and in the industry. All these are motives for us to run and struggle.”

– Lexian Zhu, Editor in Chief (Documentary), Tencent

In 2018, Tencent Video Documentary will bring in more documentaries with Chinese themes, gradually shifting from acquisition to in-house production. The Channel has already established relationships of cooperation in content with 14 international companies. Looking forward, the giant’s documentary unit “will continue to join hands with international brands and change the methods of cooperation from simple content acquisition towards co-production”, with the added mission to produce blockbusters that has been characteristic of Tencent Video, who has proven significant with their “world-leading production team”, according to Lexian Zhu, the Editor in Chief of Documentary at Tencent Video.

Lexian Zhu
Editor in Chief (Documentary)

“In China, Tencent Video has already established relationships of cooperation in content with 10 documentary agencies and television stations. In the future, we will gradually produce more quality content with Tencent features mainly by in-house production supplemented by procurement,” Zhu elaborated.

A massively repeated question Zhu hears all the time is, what indeed is Tencent currently looking for as a buyer?

“Nearly all brands ask us this question. On one hand, we are looking for quality contents catering for Chinese netizens. On the other, we are also looking for a team capable of cooperating with us in the production of contents,” Zhu summarized.

Tencent Video Documentary Channel is first in providing services for documentary consumers on the Tencent platform. “Then, we hope to break the platform’s restrictions and have documentary users access the whole network.

“To satisfy the users’ needs is the first principle we follow in choosing the documentaries. Therefore, we are inclined to select the documentaries with Chinese themes, followed by those with cultural topics, such as nature and cuisine.

“Recently, we have been focusing more on content showing the fashion culture of young people. Each brand chosen based on the content production they specialize in. For example, we will choose more historic themes from A+E, while more social ones from ITV. As the tastes of users are complex, we will consider the popularity and also individual content simultaneously in choosing the documentaries,” Zhu offered.

Netizens tend to favour documentaries with Chinese themes, such as Chinese New Year and China From Above. Meanwhile, international blockbusters such as Blue Planet II are also welcomed by netizens. As it brings all-new video-audio experience, the hits have reached 240 million during its broadcast period, fully showing its popularity. This year, Big Cat and Civilizations also triggered a new tide of viewing. The documentaries with cuisine themes are always a favourite among Chinese netizens, together with historic ones such as From First Emperor of Qin to Emperor and Creator of America.

In terms of growth in current business/monetization models, Zhu noted that they are still gradually exploring, and is looking at the IP transformation of content. “For example, we are soon launching Bite IP, composed of three series of documentaries: Once Upon a Bite, Bite Lab and Bite Origin,” said Zhu. “In content, they are different branches of one topic, being supplementary to each other in the broadcast schedule. It is expected to explore a new commercial mode through IP authorization in the aspect of commercialization.”

With regards to the Chinese industry as a buyer of foreign content, Zhu expressed that China is now striding on the route of cultural openness. “The heat of excellent documentaries one by one has proven the unique perspective and production strength of China in the field of documentaries.

“Currently, international joint production has become a trending practise, alongside joint broadcasting and marketing. In addition, the government also approves the phenomenon of cultural commerce by documentary,” Zhu explained. “We will continuously broaden our vision from the perspective of an industrial practitioner, studying through the communication of international contents such as buying copyrights and forging the international competitiveness with our excellent contents.”

This has made Tencent open to cooperation, and for Zhu, “to produce quality documentaries” with international leading teams.

And what of 2019?

“We will endeavor to produce more documentaries revealing the fashion culture of today’s young people on the basis of remaining traditional.”