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Viewers not immune to TV reality show fever

Rebecca Yang, the head of a Shanghai media company talks about the Chinese TV market
Rebecca Yang, the chief executive of International Programme Content Network in Shanghai, has sold foreign TV show formats including China's Got Talent to Chinese networks. She talks about the market for foreign programmes in the second-biggest economy in the world.

What types of foreign programmes work well in China?

There are a lot of formats unsuitable for Chinese markets, so companies like us work hard to allocate a format that will work and localise. We have to respect the local producers in terms of their judgement. Just thinking you can come into the market won't work.

Which foreign programme types have been most popular?

To date, one of the most successful foreign-originated formats is China's Got Talent. We tried a lot of localisation … to make it a success. You have other big formats like X-Factor. It's a massive format. It's about launching at the right time on the right channel with the right promotion.

How does localisation work?

When you licence a format you get the formula, the whole skeleton. As a local production team working with the editorial from the channels and working with the local brand, we need to put the meat on the bones, like finding the right cast, together with the right stories and the right story angles that will create an impact with the audience. This is the localisation that comes into it.

Does bringing in foreign programmes stifle creativity within Chinese television stations?

I'm against that [idea]. Learning from our colleagues in the West, from a simple idea, there's a lot of strength in that. All our partners have learnt a great amount.

How much of a problem is there with Chinese television companies taking foreign programme formats without authorisation?

I don't think that's completely gone, but it's not a China thing. It happens everywhere, only because [China's] such a massive country, it seems it happens. There's definitely a demand for genuine creativity.

Updated: August 15, 2011 04:00 AM

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