The Chinese Don’t Expect ‘Free’ Content: Here’s Why

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Canadians and Americans alike enjoy their free subscriptions to television, movie, and content on the Internet. But things are different in other parts of the world, where free is not always considered better, Wired reports.

China, for example, is bringing about a new change that is slowly creeping into Western content structures. Modern Chinese networks have begun to rely less and less on sponsorship deals and advertising revenue to fund their companies, and have instead looked to their userbase for funding. In this sense, Chinese companies have successfully been able to make money off of social media, television, and other sources of entertainment through charging the consumer directly. This tactic or strategy is very commonly known as “knowledge payment”, where a consumer purchases a subscription and receives knowledge, or information in return. And unlike their Western counterparts, it seems that consumers are not opposed to the idea.

In fact, this idea grew so big that most of its business happens on the mobile. While television or PC’s are costly, mobile devices are cheaper and more affordable, leaving many corporations with a large mobile market to work with. As a result, we’ve seen apps like Whatsapp and Alipay experience a surge in popularity, as their capabilities extend to mobile payments, sometimes in the form of virtual gifts that can be exchanged for real cash.

This model now seems to be making its way from the Far East to Western countries, as seen most evidently in the gaming market. Streaming platforms like Twitch have implemented emoticons that viewers can buy to support their favorite streamers. Not only that, but the company has gone as far as to provide the more prominent streamers with subscriptions, which allow for viewers to pay a monthly fee to gain access to even more features that allow for interaction with the content creator.



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