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商业 - 传媒与文化

好莱坞牵手中国视频网站

Scott Cendrowski 2014年05月05日

中国各大视频网站现在每年向英美影视公司支付1亿美元,同时在一个拥有13亿潜在观众的国家大批量地为他们制造粉丝。中国视频网站正在成为好莱坞的好朋友,就算中国广电总局让《生活大爆炸》等热门美剧下架也阻止不了他们互相靠近。

    眼下的战果

    中国第三大视频网站搜狐在购买西方国家视频内容方面最为积极。这家公司在增加《纸牌屋》和《周六夜现场》之后举行了新闻发布会。去年春季,搜狐在北京款待了《吸血鬼日记》(The Vampire Diaries)的全体演员。对于首席执行官张朝阳而言,增加美国娱乐节目相当简单:对于中国视频网站而言,好莱坞内容很便宜,因为虽然它们的成功无法保证,但对盗版节目的需求证明中国存在大量粉丝。

    “盗版让中国观众对美国影视节目产生了普遍的兴趣,”张朝阳坐在搜狐位于北京西北区的总部大楼里一张兼作他办公室的巨型会议桌前告诉《财富》记者。张朝阳承认自己很喜欢《绝命毒师》(Breaking Bad )和上世纪90年代的电影《我的表兄维尼》(My Cousin Vinny),他说搜狐在播放中国电视剧之后,开始购买西方电视节目。

    这家网站在2009年增加了《生活大爆炸》的独家播放权,这部CBS喜剧不仅以15亿观看次数成为搜狐最受欢迎的美剧,而且也成为中国所有视频网站中最受喜欢的外国节目。(这部电视剧在美国本土的收视率也处于领先地位。)由于这部美剧的受欢迎程度,政府审查机构可能一直在试图通过禁止播放这部情景喜剧来发出一个信息,尽管该剧的主要情节并不会引起争议。

    《周六夜现场》成为搜狐的又一项巨大成就。去年,分销这个节目的百老汇视频公司(Broadway Video Enterprises)接到搜狐打来的电话,询问如何才能把这个节目引入中国。百老汇视频公司总裁布丽塔•冯•舒勒在过去十年里一直试图在中国播出《周六夜现场》,但都以失败告终,问题总是出现:从纽约进行磋商很困难,而中间商永远无法达成协议。 她承认说:“我不很了解他们。”但是,搜狐同意购买本季《周六夜现场》节目,而且媒体的反响也很积极,于是搜狐又签约购买了明年第40周年季的《周六夜现场》节目。虽然与搜狐达成的协议只是她从与奈飞或Hulu签署协议中获得的营收的“一小部分”,但冯•舒勒说,《周六夜现场》现在在中国终于拥有了立足之地。

    未来的走向

    近年来,中国主流视频网站都专注于收购西方国家电视节目的播放权,因为相对比较容易在节目中添加广告。(整季电视节目拥有的1分钟广告计划多于一部电影。)但是今天对《美国队长2》及其他电影达成的协议让我们看到了一个前景:电影正在成为中国下一个热门视频内容。张朝阳预计,中国各大视频网站今年在购买西方国家影视内容播放权方面将会花费1亿美元,而由于一系列新的电影播放协议,这个数字在未来三年内轻易就能增加一倍。

    优酷CEO古永锵说:“中国和美国不同,那里存在DVD窗口期和HBO窗口期,而在中国,这些窗口期并不存在。”由于中国的电影院受到政府规定每年最多只能上映34部外国电影的限制,中国的视频网站迅速成为西方国家影视内容的发行目的地。这就是为什么迪斯尼公司和华纳兄弟公司(Warner Bros.)已经与优酷旗下付费电影网站——优酷付费频道达成协议的原因所在。古永锵说,这些影视公司都在通过这些协议赚钱,因为这些协议中都包括营收分成协议。

    预测显示,中国在未来六年内将成为世界上最大的电影市场——这意味着对西方影视内容的兴趣将会继续增长,只要他们能够继续打击盗版,同时与政府合作。

    现在,让我们回过头来再谈谈《美国队长2:寒冬战士》在北京举行的首映式。首映式会场马路对面的一家小店门前挂着一个指示牌,上面写道:“CD/DVD商店”。店里,一排排盗版DVD正在待价而沽。而在后排的货架上放着的正是《美国队长》。(财富中文网)

    译者:iDo98

    Recent successes

    Sohu, the third-largest Chinese video site, is the most aggressive buyer of Western content. The company staged press conferences after adding House of Cards and Saturday Night Live. Last spring, it hosted the cast of The Vampire Diaries in Beijing. For chief executive Charles Zhang, adding U.S. entertainment was pretty simple: Hollywood content was cheap for Chinese sites because its success was not guaranteed, yet demand for pirated shows proved that fans existed in big numbers.

    "Thanks to piracy, there's a general interest," Zhang tells Fortune as he sits at a massive conference table that doubles as his office at Sohu's headquarters on Beijing's northwest side. An admitted fan of Breaking Bad and the 1990s film My Cousin Vinny, Zhang says Sohu moved into buying Western television shows after broadcasting Chinese television dramas.

    The site added exclusive rights for The Big Bang Theory in 2009. The CBS comedy has not only become Sohu's the most popular U.S. show with 1.5 billion views, but also all of China's favorite foreign show. (The show also leads in ratings in its native U.S.) Because of the show's popularity, government censors may have been trying to send a message by banning the sitcom, despite its uncontroversial plotlines.

    Saturday Night Live was another coup for the company. Last year, Broadway Video Enterprises, which distributes the program, received a call from Sohu asking what it would take to bring the show to China. Broadway's president Britta von Schoeler had tried and failed for 10 years to broadcast SNL in China, but problems always arose: negotiating from New York was difficult and middlemen could never close the deal. "I didn't know much about them," she admits. But Sohu agreed to buy the current season of SNL and, following some positive press, signed on for next year's 40th anniversary season. Though the Sohu deal is "a small fraction" of the revenues from agreements with Netflix or Hulu, von Schoeler says, it finally gives SNL a foothold in China.

    Next steps

    In recent years, China's dominant video sites have focused on acquiring rights to Western television programs because of the relative ease of adding advertisements to a show. (Entire TV seasons have many more opportunities for 1-minute commercials than does a film.) But today's deals for Captain America and others hold promise that movies are becoming China's next hot ticket. Zhang predicts that the $100 million that Chinese video sites spend to license Western content in 2014 could easily double over the next three years because of new film deals.

    "Unlike the U.S., where you have a DVD window and HBO window, in China these don't exist," Youku CEO Victor Koo says. Because Chinese theaters are

    limited by the government to showing 34 foreign films a year, China's video sites quickly become the destination for Western content. Which is why Disney and Warner Bros. (TWX) have signed deals with Youku's subscription movie site called Youku Premium. Koo says the studios are making money on the deals that include revenue sharing agreements.

    Forecasts indicate that China will become the world's largest movie market in six years -- which means interest in Western content will continue to grow, so long as they can continue to combat piracy and collaborate with the government.

    Back at the Captain America premiere in Biejing, a sign hung from a little shop across the road from the event: "CD/DVD STORE." Inside, there were rows and rows of counterfeit DVDs for sale. On a back shelf? Captain America.

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