China is now the world’s second-biggest spender in TV programming, with the US leading globally.
According to IHS Markit, China has overtaken the UK to secure second place, partly driven by an increase in spending from online platforms.
TV programming expenditures in China, including online platforms, hit RMB 73bn (US$10.9bn) in 2017, followed by the UK at US$10.0bn, while the US led the global market, spending US$58.3bn, said the research company.
IHS Markit said there’s been a plateau in broadcaster advertising revenue growth in China since 2014, reaching RMB 83bn (US$12.3bn) in 2017. Despite this, online revenue is growing as the video ad spend and subscription business revenue increases.
TV broadcasters spent RMB 43bn (US$6.4bn) on programming in 2017, compared to RMB30bn ($4.5bn) spent by online platform companies, according to the report.
Kia Ling Teoh, senior research analyst, IHS Markit, said: “The growth in China’s TV programming spending is largely due to aggressive content investment by online companies Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. These three giants have upped their spending on content origination and acquisition for their respective video platforms iQiyi, Youku Tudou and Tencent Video.”
“As digital entertainment viewership gains traction, advertisers are gradually moving more of their budgets to digital platforms,” Teoh said. “We expect online companies to overtake TV broadcaster spending in 2018, if the content creation spree persists.”
The report found original programming made up 49%, followed by acquired programming at 46%, and sports programming at 5%, with this split likely to remain consistent for some time, but an increase of interest in sports could see more investment.
Just last week, Chinese streaming giant iQiyi added to its acquired programming via a deal with Nickelodeon Kids.
“While online platform companies are increasing China’s TV programming expenditure, they should be concerned by user retention and sustainability of content costs,” Teoh warned. “In order to retain existing subscribers and attract new ones, online platform companies are investing heavily to create and acquire exclusive content. Unlike Netflix, these companies still rely substantially on advertising and sponsorship. If the cost of content continues to surge, such aggressive investment will become unsustainable.”