Discovery Takes Stake in Chinese Digital Talent Firm VS Media

Discovery Communications Building - P 2011

Police cars are seen at the gate of the Discovery Channel headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, on September 1, 2010. A gunman fired several shots and took at least one person hostage on September 1 at the Discovery Channel headquarters near Washington, media reports said, quoting police who feared the assailant might have a bomb. Local media reports quoted police as saying the man entered the lobby of the building and fired a weapon five or six times before declaring: "Nobody is going anywhere."

The company is known for finding and developing young internet stars across greater China.

Discovery Communications has taken a minority stake in VS Media, a Hong Kong-based digital media and talent company that targets creative millennials across greater China. The partnership was unveiled Wednesday in downtown Shanghai. 

Founded in 2013 by media entrepreneur Ivy Wong, VS Media is described as being devoted to Chinese young people “leading mobile-enabled and socially-driven lives.” Over the past three years, the company has recruited and mentored more than 500 "digitally native" creators, many of them former streaming video and social media stars. The company works with the creators by “providing production facilities and funding, offering direction and support for cross-marketing, social media and search optimization to enable monetization opportunities.” The company says its network has 55 million subscribers and 320 million video views a month.

“As Discovery looks to build deeper traction in the Chinese-speaking markets, VS Media's robust following is incredibly valuable to us,” said Arthur Bastings, president and managing director of Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific. “Through their advanced analytics, we can get fully plugged in to the Chinese millennial zeitgeist,” he added.

Through the partnership, VS Media will tap into content from Discovery Digital Networks, which produces and distributes digital-native programming targeting millennial audiences across its international platforms. VS Media will then locally brand and customize the DDN content for its Chinese platform. Discovery says it will lend its content creation expertise to VS Media’s creative output. 

VS Media also is setting up a $4 million content development fund, which will be used to collaborate with creators to produce local formats. The fund will invite creators to pitch original content ideas with potential for multi-franchises. The content will be produced by VS Media’s consumer brand, VS ME.

VS Media unveiled five projects that will kick-start the development fund. They include: 

- An eSports docudrama featuring Taiwanese stars Jay Chou, Derek Chung, Forrest Li, MiSTakE and Toyz.
- A VR series starring a Chinese fashion figure who will uncover local designers in China.
- A rockumentary on up-and-coming Chinese musician Tien, who soon will be performing for the president of Cuba.
- A travelogue shot in VR featuring three prominent viral stars from Taiwan, Hong Kong and China (names TBA).
- A dramedy by one of VS Media's top talents to date, Jin Da Wei, who presents a humorous take on the journey to online fame.

"Leveraging Discovery’s expertise, we are driven, more than ever, to propel our growth by empowering creators to come up with more high-quality and addictive content,” said VS Media founder Wong.