With internet use on the rise in China—632 million web users and counting, according to China Internet Network Information Center—no Netflix in the region, and 83% of the country’s web users now accessing the internet via mobile devices, Ciwen Kids has been quick to tap the kids market. It recently lined up a string of partnerships with several international distributors to expand the library of its new cross-platform kids content service BuddiesTV.
Two years in the making, BuddiesTV is the brainchild of Sean Chu, VP of Ciwen Kids, a division of Beijing’s Ciwen Media Group.
The service launched in June and now reaches mainland China, Macao and Hong Kong. It’s currently available across most streaming platforms with partners including IQiyi and Tencent Video (online streaming), BesTV (IPTV) and Xiaomi Media Box and Tmall Box (OTT). It’s also accessible via iOS and Android apps and has branded slots on traditional TV.
Among the platform’s popular animated programs, which are all dubbed or subtitled for the Chinese market, are Franklin and Friends, Babar, Jelly Jam and Slugterra from producer/distributor partners including Nelvana Studios, Nerd Corps, Vodka Capital and DQ Entertainment.
Ciwen Media Group has also inked a deal with Zodak Kids for more than 390 episodes of programming, and Ciwen is serving as a regional distribution agent across free TV, cable and satellite, home entertainment and VOD platforms.
With new content and L&M annoumcements coming soon, Chu is pleased with the early buzz and potential for future growth. “It took us a while to bring these shows online because we needed time to do the localization, but so far we’ve done well. Financially, it’s healthy.” He adds that Ciwen pays for programming, and that each platform partner has its own monetization and business model for BuddiesTV.
“For OTT and IPTV, consumers pay a little more money for ease of access. For online, the service is free, but there is advertising. For iOS, we only charge US$1 per month for all the programming,” he says.
With no promotion, BuddiesTV for iOS devices landed in the top-10 list for kids animation content in China, just two weeks after launching on the Apple App Store.
This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Kidscreen.