While global market leaders like Youtube and Vimeo are blocked by the Great Chinese Firewall, the online video arena in the world's most populous country is vibrant with domestic players. One of the names that repeatedly pops up as “China’s Youtube” is the video-sharing site Tudou. Founded in Shanghai in 2005, the so-called "China's Youtube" gained traction very quickly in the Chinese online community. Tudou is known to be the pioneer of video hosting services in China and became very popular in the country's vast online community. In 2012, it was announced that the competing video streaming giant Youku had reached an agreement to acquire Tudou under the new name Youku Tudou and was taken over by the Alibaba Group just three years later. As of 2019, Youku, Tencent Video, and iQiyi accounted for over 80 percent of the market share.
Instead of focusing on the advertising business, the well-established platforms in China often adopt a hybrid paid and ad revenue model. This makes it necessary to pump more investment in producing and acquiring high quality, original content. This cut-throat market competition has led to many game-changing deals by the video streaming platforms. In 2018, Youku secured exclusive rights to stream the FIFA World Cup in China, along with various deals with NBC Universal studios and Sony Pictures TV to bring Hollywood classics to the eager Chinese viewers. Meanwhile, iQiyi has successfully attracted new paid subscriptions with its top-charting premium drama, "Story of Yanxi Palace". Not lagging behind the competitors, Tencent has also invested millions of dollars in gaming and e-sports streaming platforms, like Huya and Bilibili.
Recently, short video platforms like Douyin, Kuaishou, and Xigua have successfully claimed their own territories in China. When it comes to online paid videos, premium and original content will continue to be the driving forces for subscriber growth. Industry experts expected that advanced technology such as 5G and AI would play a bigger role in user experience and personalized recommendations, which will undoubtedly boost up ad revenue.