About this Blog

The purpose of this blog is for my personal use. It serves as my personal diary as I investigate Chinese internet/gaming companies for investment purpose. If you have any comments or disagreement, please give me feedbacks.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

SINA – SOHU – NTES – Video Shootout part5

Video Shootout Part 5 – Portals’ competitors – Others

TV –
Another major competitor is of course the regular TV.
First, the quality of TV is better than the streaming video on the computer. Second, it is more comfortable to be sitting on the couch than in front of a computer.

What can the web portals do?

The portals shall start by producing the kind of programming that will fit with the computer. If I were Sohu, I would give some grant money to some universities’ marketing apartment and drama apartments for them to investigate what kinds of programming fit better on the PC than on a TV.

An example can be a gaming channel where it show real time in-game plays for some popular show. For example, TX2’s castle warfare can make some great TV action.

Another good example is what Sohu does with Houston Rockets programs. CCTV carries some Houston Rockets games, but not all. Sohu carries the rest. The most popular shows on Sohu are the Houston Rocket’s games.

Sohu can do the same thing with the Olympic Games. CCTV is going to carry the cream of the Olympic programs like basketball and soccer. But Sohu can provide the 2nd tier programs, especially if they develop a strong TV program team (producers, cameramen, and editorial experts).

Secondly, by integrating online video with other computer tools; it will create a fuller experience than just watching TV. Computer tools such as users forum and instant messaging will allow the viewer a chance for truly 2 ways interactive experience.

How to put ads –

Somehow web portals have to make money out of all these video contents. The video from the 3rd party traditional TV station already has commercials in them. But web portals don’t get any money for these commercials. Somehow, web portals need to put their own commercials over the existing commercials. The more I think about it, this presents the most challenge. There are 4 ways the web portals can do:

More self generated content. For video channels such as Sohu’s S and V channels and Sina’s SinaTV, it will be easy to put video ads inside the video stream.

For 3rd party traditional TV channels such as CCTV channels, web portals can ask for a cut of the advertising dollars traditional TV stations get. Because the web portals created additional eyeballs than just traditional TV, CCTV is able to get more ad dollars. Web portals have the right to ask for part of the money. But this is not recommended. I don’t think traditional TV stations will like it. It also gives too much leverage to the traditional TV stations.

Right now all the TV programs are analog TVs. When the web portals receive the TV programs from traditional TV stations, they shall ask for 2 separate data streams. One is the analog TV stream and another is digital timing information. This digital timing information has the precise time of the existing commercials. The web portals can use this information to put web portals’ commercials on top of the original commercial. But this will require new equipment in the traditional TV studio. Web portals need to work with traditional TV studios and the hardware manufactures to come out with the equipment modifications.

China is going to start her digital TV initiatives. She is developing a new DTV standard. With digital TV stream, it doesn’t require two separate streams. The timing information for the commercials can be embedded inside the digital TV data stream. Web portals need to start working with the DTV standard developers to make sure this capability exists. But this is going to be a few years away.

In part 5, I will have the conclusion.

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