'Digital natives' bring Chinese TV online

Jenny Ng, Max Parry, Rogelio Bakels and Miranda Jiang/Value Partners
12/01/2012
News
Commentary

Youths in China are spending more time watching TV than anywhere else in the world. In the world’s biggest market, the number of TV households grew and the TV advertising market rebounded despite contrary trends elsewhere.

According to a study by Value Partners, shifts in viewing behavior among young Chinese suggest a serious threat to the long-term health of the cable TV sector in China. On the other hand, this presents a corresponding opportunity for online media players.

The online survey covered youths 17 to 22 years old. Respondents seem to be “digital natives” who spend most of their time downloading and streaming online video as opposed to watching traditional TV. Nearly half of respondents said they have stopped watching linear TV entirely, although this may be due to the lack of access to TV sets while at university.

For most of those who still do, watching TV takes less than 30 minutes a day while viewing online video takes an hour and browsing 2.5 hours. Of all respondents, 84% ranked video streaming and downloading as their top means of video consumption.

Chinese youths are viewing less traditional TV mainly because of dissatisfaction with TV content, the relative convenience of PCs and laptops for students – most of whom live on campus -- and the convenience of viewing on demand.

However, more than 90% of respondents do not use mobile handsets to watch video content. This is attributed to inadequate network capacity and slow connection speeds, low penetration of smartphones capable of streaming and displaying video, and preference for watching professionally-produced content which are easier to view on PCs and laptops than on mobile phones.

Also, cable-based video on demand (VOD) and personal video recorders are among the least commonly used media platforms. This is due to lack of awareness and availability of services, but more respondents cited additional subscription payments as a major drawback.

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