Why Can't Hollywood Crack China's Massive TV Market?

'Sing! China'

South Korea has more luck there getting shows on air than the U.S. as stateside producers scramble for ways to enter an industry where series can regularly generate 75 million live viewers.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Compared to the gold rush atmosphere surrounding the Chinese film business, the approach of most Western TV companies to China has been slow and steady.

Dutch production group Talpa scored a huge hit with the Chinese version of its singing competition show The Voice, which grabbed more than 120 million viewers on TV (and 400 million-plus online) in the Middle Kingdom, but most have been satisfied with smaller licensing deals to Chinese digital and online platforms. This includes ESPN's agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent to provide live coverage of the NBA for Tencent's online platform QQ Sports, or FremantleMedia's recently extended deal with Youku, which will see Youku's VOD channels stream such Fremantle shows as America's Got Talent and Project Runway.

Only a handful of American series, including The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, have major followings in China. Homegrown dramas, or series imported from South Korea, dominate. But for U.S. companies, the Chinese TV industry offers something lacking in the country's Wild East-style movie business: stability. China's television industry operates under a tightly controlled system consisting of state-owned CCTV and its channels on one side and the major regional satellite broadcasters, including the Hunan, Jiangsu and the Guangzhou networks, on the other. There are hundreds more digital channels and online platforms, but here, too, the picture is one of continuity and steady, not explosive, growth.

[readmore:]

"We are only just starting to see real licensing revenue coming out of China," admits Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.

A handful of U.S. production companies have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to get Chinese viewers to watch U.S. shows, they are making local shows for Chinese audiences. On Nov. 21, STX Entertainment, known for such films as Bad Moms and the short-lived NBC series State of Affairs, will kick off its new nonscripted division with Top Surprise, a Chinese variety-style reality show. Developed with China's XG Entertainment, Top Surprise will premiere on the Hunan network, which reaches about 1 billion viewers across China. Jason Goldberg, president of nonscripted operations at STX (and creator of shows including Punk'd and Beauty and the Geek), says he's spent the last seven months developing Top Surprise in the country.

"To produce for the Chinese market, you have to understand China, and you can't get that from reading books or looking at an article," says Goldberg. "You have to be in China, you have to live the culture to know what Chinese audiences want."

And what Chinese audiences want, according to Goldberg, is more original Chinese-language programming.

"The trend you are seeing is toward local language, local production," he adds. "They take pride in their own storytelling and don't want a great deal of content coming from other parts of the world."

[readmore:]

That push toward more homegrown TV also is coming from up top. The Chinese government has made it clear that it feels there are too many imported shows on the air: mainly South Korean dramas and such reality programs as Where Are We Going, Dad? — a huge hit on Hunan (75 million viewers) and one of a slew of shows adapted from originally Korean formats.

"We've lost diversity," says Lily Zhang, a Star China TV exec and producer of recent hit Sing! China, a singing competition show. "The audience doesn't want to turn on the TV and only see content from South Korea."

The potential in the Chinese market, particularly in the online video space, is huge. Analytics group Statista estimates the number of smartphone users in China will top 600 million next year. But American companies trying to crack the market need both a local partner — STX has backing from several Chinese players, including Tencent and Hong Kong-based media group PCCW — and a lot of patience.

"The biggest mistake [U.S. producers make] is trying to manage the Chinese market from afar," says Larry Namer, an American producer whose L.A.-Beijing-based company Metan produces Chinese-language programs such as E!-style entertainment show Hello! Hollywood and Friends-esque sitcom Modern Life. "You have to be in China to understand their approach to business. It took me three years to realize that when people say yes, they often mean, 'I don't agree, but I don't want to criticize you in public.' "

[readmore:]

This story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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