Online TV on the rise in China

CASBAA guests, panelists sees huge opportunity

HONG KONG -- Online TV and video will be the fastest-growing broadcast medium in China in the next three years, said participants and guests polled Tuesday at the annual Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia convention.

In an industry roundtable called "Gold/Silver/Bronze: Strategies for Post-Olympic China," online TV and video were tabbed as showing greater promise for growth in China than IPTV, mobile TV, digital pay TV and plain old analog television.

Fueling the online TV growth is a relaxation among historically strict Chinese media regulators after the broad and rapid online response to the deadly earthquake in Sichuan in May and the Beijing Olympics in August.

"They see after those events that the Internet is not necessarily a bad thing," said Paul Wang, managing director of CSM Media Research, a joint venture between Beijing-based CTR Market Research and U.K.-based TNS Group.

David Wolf, a Beijing-based media consultant, said that content owners should seize the opportunity afforded by the relative youth and tech savvy of China's online population -- a number Li Danyang, senior vp of the Beijing-based content company the Gehua Group, puts at about 280 million people.

"Regulators were hands-on before, but not anymore," Wolf said.

Peter Schloss, president of Broadwebasia, a Los Angeles-based operator of Chinese-language social networking and search Web sites, estimates that advertisers are throwing $2 billion into China's online space, much more than they're spending on TV.

"In terms of business models, new media is not different from any other medium as a window for advertisers," Schloss said.