Chinese Internet TV and media devices are revolutionizing information and entertainment even as traditional counterparts face demise, Bao Wanxian reports in
Except during his childhood,
"I thought I could get all the entertainment and shows I wanted from my laptop or iPad by visiting online video websites," said the 34-year-old.
But when the World Cup rolled out earlier this month, Liu realized he did not have a TV set to catch the matches.
Fortunately for Liu and other Chinese soccer fans, they were soon offered multiple options to enjoy the global sporting event by using the latest devices and channels like their smartphones, set-top boxes and Internet Protocol television or IPTV, in which TV services are accessed using the Internet.
Liu bought a 49-inch, 3-D IPTV set made by Xiaomi, a Chinese mobile Internet company that develops smartphones, apps and consumer electronics. It seemed like a much better choice than traditional TV sets, he said.
"It works well across multiple screen sizes. The only thing I needed to do was connect my WeChat social networking account with the set. It was easy and smooth access to all 64 games of the World Cup, the sports lottery and online games," he said.
Liu's experience highlighted the declining influence and use of traditional TV versus the huge potential of Internet-related content in one of the world's largest and fastest-growing markets. Traditional TV and its related devices and services, which have dominated most Chinese families' living rooms for the past few decades, are coming under increasing fire from mobile devices and online video sites.
The rate of residents who watched TV in
Figures released by the
Conversely, domestic sales of IPTV devices have experienced explosive growth in the past two years. According to the 2014 Internet Trends report released by
In the first quarter of this year, LeTV, a leading provider of smart TV and over-the-top content, which refers to the delivery of audio, video, and other media over the Internet without a multiple system operator, covered 19 percent of sales revenue in the Chinese TV market, ranking first in the industry.
"Internet TV has revolutionized the way in which Chinese audiences receive information and entertainment in their living room," said
"It is being seen as the new hope for those in the TV industry to win back audiences."
Research by TNS, a global leader in market research and business analysis, showed that the lack of diversified content and creative modes has led to the decline of traditional TV and boosted the development of Internet-based media.
"For traditional consumer electronics manufacturers, their job is done once they deliver a TV set to the customer. But for Internet-based media providers, our job has just started," said Yu Guangdong, vice-president for the search business of Internet company
"Internet TV has drawn a large number of Chinese viewers back to the living room, sitting in front of the television set. The refocus on the industry also brings more investment, covering operational costs and promising to help rake in more profits," said Zhang Yuxia, CEO of
The emergence of Internet TV, combining services, facilities, video content and terminals, has obviously threatened the traditional profit model of the TV industry. That is prompting traditional TV set manufacturers to change their mindset and seek cooperation with online video providers.
From late last year, a group of
"The joint cooperation will provide advanced technology in producing TV facilities and innovative video services for users, helping to establish a positive cycle in the future," said
Amid the development of IPTV and its related devices, government scrutiny over broadcasting via these channels is expected to increase.
Some IPTV and set-top box operators that provide online video, audio and gaming content as well as other applications have been urged to halt download channels involving third-party applications for unlicensed online programs and illegal content, according to the country's media watchdog.
That means that enterprises that want to provide set-top boxes and IPTV can only cooperate with the seven Internet television licence holders approved by the
"The move affects not only government agencies and enterprises, but also users of the set-top boxes and IPTV," Xie, the former president of Yahoo China, said.
The crux of
"The latest moves are likely to squeeze out some Internet TV players, integrate Internet resources and standardize the content of programming for both traditional and Internet TV, making the industry focus more on enhancing the quality of programs and promoting the healthy development of
"There is still a lot of room for enhancing profit from online games, e-commerce and other entertainment in a wide range," Xu said.
"I believe it will be an irreversible trend of the TV industry to provide entertainment and information to users over the Internet.
"But the key point is to establish diversified content production and legally profitable modes as well as creative services for consumers."
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