In China video wars, giants battle, upstart rides Android to homes

When it comes to internet video, China’s giant online services operator Tencent seems spooked.

A day after rival video service Youku Tudou secured a deal to stream premium movies from an eighth and final Hollywood major studio, Tencent has got in touch to flag its own numbers.

Citing iResearch data, the outfit says its 275.5 million monthly Tencent Video users has grown to exceed even the recently merged Youku’s 266.3 million, while its average 54.8 minutes per user per day spent on-site beats Youku’s 34 minutes.

Although Youku Tudou now has an increasingly impressive professional content line-up, Tencent’s media briefing cites an Aegis executive who explains: “The reason why Tencent Video has achieved more unique visitors than Youku is the parent company’s ownership of social media properties that have pushed traffic towards its video site via social sharing.”

That would suggest scale can beat prestige and premium content when it comes to drawing eyeballs — or, at least, that domestic content trumps Hollywood imports. Tencent has an arsenal of services including its QQ IM network with over 700 million users, Qzone and Pengyou social networks, games, the Weixin mobile community client, and a Twitter rival with around 400 million registered users. Tencent placed at #9 in this year’s paidContent 50 list of the world’s biggest digital content earners.

If broadband speeds can continue increasing sufficiently, China’s online video viewing market could be set to explode.

Recently, I reported how one video service was even manufacturing its own internet-connected TV to take its content direct to living rooms.

Yet another new platform hopeful aims to replicate the pattern in which China is also seeing a creative explosion of smartphone systems thanks to operators and services rebadging Google’s Android.

Xiaomi, which has found success by releasing the low-cost M-1 Android handset running a slick firmware variant dubbed “MIUI”, is now planning to unveil an Android-powered internet TV set-top box.

iResearch concludes: “A Xiaomi set-top box would attract even closer comparisons between the company’s product line and Apple’s. Xiaomi founder Lei Jun is sometimes referred to as the ‘Chinese Steve Jobs’.”