For many businesses that create and publish video content, China remains a market beyond their reach. It seems almost hard to believe that the majority of video platforms are still not able to stream content to Chinese audiences from within the People’s Republic of China (PRC) itself. But why is this the case?
The emergence of online video in China
Over the past ten years the number of people accessing the Internet in China has increased 5x, though only 48% of the population has access to it which is due to the patchy and inconsistent availability of Internet across the country. As expected, such strong growth has led to an explosion of online video platforms in China. In 2007 a mere 160 million Chinese had watched videos online by 2014 this number was 3x, reaching nearly 433 million viewers. The overall size of China’s online video market in revenue amounts to 33 billion yuan.
With those stats as benchmarks it should also be said that the internet has become the preferred platform in China for watching video content, especially for younger generations. According to the CNNIC, more than half of online video viewers in China in are in their teens and 20s. It’s because of these amazing stats that there has been rampant development in social video services in China.
The ‘Great Firewall’ blocker
More often than not video hosting platform sites are restricted from operating in China due to the famous ‘Great Firewall’ – a term used to describe China’s internet censorship system that blocks a large number of international websites, apps, social media and other online resources deemed inappropriate or offensive by authorities. Alongside this, the expense and complexity of setting up and delivering in-China playback is typically a major blocker.
In practice, it isn’t possible to establish a presence in China without working with a local partner to assist you in gaining the required licence; this can be an unpredictable and lengthy process. Admittedly, it has become smoother in recent years, but the current diplomatic tensions between the US and PRC could change that.
Location vs quality
Many organisations find that when Content Delivery Networks (CDN) stream video to China from outside the PRC, the speed and quality are variable and inconsistent with their branding or the value of the service they are offering. CDN points of presence (or PoPs) reduce loading and buffering by caching content at the server closest to the viewer. This ensures that, wherever viewers are in the world, they have videos delivered from a server near them.
For a Chinese viewer, if the content is streamed from as far away as Seattle (that’s not uncommon) the degradation of speed and latency is plain to see. The further away the viewer is from the server, the more intermediary points the video request and its response have to go through, in order to get from A to B. If it takes a second or more to make a request and receive a response, the likelihood is that viewers will not have a great experience.
Demand is only growing
At vzaar, a use case we see more and more is companies wanting to deliver employee or agent training to their operations in China. We’ve also seen an increasing number of companies wanting to use video to market to consumers in China. For a high-end vacations business, it was vital that prospective customers in China had the highest possible quality of viewing experience, something that couldn’t be guaranteed if videos were delivered from locations outside mainland China.
Higher Education institutions are increasingly offering their courses internationally, packaged as a complete overseas programme, and want to be able to reach the Chinese market also. For a paying student base, it is imperative a high-quality viewing experience is delivered, which requires delivery from within mainland China.
Making China video hosting a reality
Observing the growing demand for video hosting in China, vzaar made the move to enable access to CDN PoPs in the PRC over three years ago, in partnership with Verizon Digital Media Services. vzaar provides three key benefits to customers interested in hosting videos in China:
- Established POPs in mainland China – We have already been through the difficult and often opaque process of getting approval to deliver content points of presence set up in China and having their connectivity already fully propagated. It’s important to note that not all “global” CDNs are registered and able to deliver content in mainland China. A truly global CDN provider like vzaar has the capacity to not only deliver content beyond the Great Firewall, but also to anywhere in the world.
- Flexible overage options – Bandwidth in China is still very expensive, as much as 50 times more expensive than in western countries, and vzaar’s customers benefit from our economies of scale. In-China bandwidth allowances are built into our Premium and Enterprise plans, and we offer very reasonable overage or expansion options.
- Expert support – Our fantastic customer service; occasionally in-China playback can throw up different challenges for our customers and they know that our technical experts are working with them immediately to resolve any issues.
Vzaar’s Chief Executive, Adrian Sevitz, concludes, “We only see in-China playback expanding and becoming essential for more companies. We are excited to have been one of the very first On-line Video Platforms to establish in-China playback and gain the experience and economies of scale that our customers are benefiting from today.”
Want to sign up for our 10-day free trial (no credit card required)? Click the button below and start delivering high-quality playback in China today!