Last week, I briefly introduced the fast-growing Chinese Social Network Site Kaixin001.com’s eye-popping growth story. This week, I’d like to highlight another Social Media star in China: Youku.com.
Launched in December 2006, Youku.com has grown to become the most successful video sharing site in the country. As the company has reported, “Youku.com delivers more than 150 million daily video views as of June 2008 and total user time spent exceeded 30 billion minutes per month.” Traffic ranking company Alexa has ranked Youku.com as number 10 in China and number 52 in global traffic. According to the Alexa traffic stat graph below, in the past 30 days, Youku has also run far ahead of its main Chinese video sharing competitors, Tudou.com and 56.com, in terms of daily traffic.
Calling all these video sharing sites “Youtube clones” is not exactly correct. Even though they brand themselves as site for user-generated content (the videos and comments are submitted by the users), there is also a lot of professionally-produced content there, like hot TV shows and movies, due to holes in enforcing intellectual property policy in China. At this very moment, looking at the Youku front page, about 90% of the featured videos on the front page are professionally produced content. So it is really more like a Chinese Youtube/Hulu hybrid. You can basically find anything on it, even some pirated versions of newly-released movies. Besides user-submitted professional media content, as Youku gains more traction with its users, it has also attracted many professional media groups, like TV stations, to set up pages and upload full length versions of their programs sites for users to watch.
An editorial focus on professional content is probably a major reason Youku has separated itself from its competitors in China. Unlike its competitor Tudou, which put emphasis on user-generated content and feature them on the front page, Youku acquires traditional broadcast news channel contributions, and usually selects and features current event news clips from authoritative news stations like CCTV on its front page. For many people who have gradually abandoned TV in their lives, Youku has jumped in to fill that spot perfectly. it does not only provides professional entertainment, but also editorially-selected daily news content.
According to Youku, until July 2008, it has received 80 million dollars in funding from international venture capitalists including Bain Capital, Sutter Hill Ventures, Farallon Capital, Maverick Capital and Chinese Venture Capitalist Chengwei Venture.
Youku has also launched a program called Daily Buzz to report its hottest videos, along with an introduction of background stories in English. It could be a great source for foreigners to access the hottest online buzz in China. Kudos to Youku for providing a window for the outside world into all the social dimensions of China. Below is a teaser I put here for you to visit the buzz site at http://buzz.youku.com/. Is your interest piqued for starting your own web venture in China now? Then check out this detailed guide from Read Write Start: Never Mind the Valley: Here’s Beijing