Hunan Satellite TV To Lose The Throne

摘要: Starting from this year, Hunan Satellite TV has been gradually losing its audience ratings to others, which eventually lowered the channel’s position on the chart to from the top one to three, surpassed by the Dragon TV and Zhejiang Satellite TV. So how did the once mighty Hunan Satellite TV that had made phenomenal shows such as I Am A Singer and Dad, Where Are We Going? etc. fall into this pit, especially in times when the cultural industry is on the rise?

(Chinese Version)

Last year, with ratings getters such as The Journey of Flower, The Empress of China and The Disguiser etc., Hunan Satellite TV was able to top the ratings chart for over 200 days, making the channel truly the king among its rivals. This tremendous success last year helped the channel receive advertisements proposition from big brands, which eventually allowed the channel to make over 13 billion RMB from selling advertisements. Programs like Run For Time had even sold out his advertisement time at a really high price before the season two started airing.

However, compared with the strong enthusiasm from the advertising industry, Hunan Satellite TV is seemingly starting to slow down. Ratings and audience share statistics of 52 cities show that the very channel had fell from the first place in 2015 to the third place, surpassed by the Dragon TV and Zhejiang Satellite TV. It appears that Hunan Satellite TV is losing its throne to others.

So how did the once mighty Hunan Satellite TV that had made phenomenal shows such as I Am A Singer and Dad, Where Are We Going? etc. fall into this pit, especially in times when the cultural industry is on the rise? Here are some of the reasons I have sorted out that might contribute to this situation:

Challenge one: threats from the Internet

As 4G and Wifi technologies advance, the mobile Internet has penetrated basically every aspect of our life and subsequently changed the way of how people watch shows and programs. Supported by Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, Internet-based content platforms have proven to be major threats to traditional broadcast and TV stations.

Internet video platforms tend to adopt the money-burning strategies when it comes to buying the copyright of quality TV shows so as to overwhelm traditional TV and broadcast stations. They continuously help bring up the price of contents and make it harder for their traditional rivals to have access to contents. For example, Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace was sold to Tencent Video at the price 9 million RMB per episode while the price for Jiangsu Satellite TV and Dragon TV was 3 million RMB per episode. In the past, it’s always traditional TV channels that got the content first. However, later traditional TV channels and Internet platforms got the content at the same time. At present, it appears that traditional giants are losing their ground and Internet platforms are having the upper hand as they get the content earlier.

More and more big-budget shows and quality shows are now available on video sites. And thanks to the mobility Internet platforms provide, viewers are apparently favoring the Internet platforms. This year, Iqiyi achieved a glorious success in the industry with the phenomenal Korean show Descendants of the Sun and its advantage as a successful Internet platform, earning a mad amount of money.

Also in the show-making business, the concept of the Internet nurtures content has been brought about. Thereafter, incredible shows such as Let’s Talk and Go Princess Go etc. emerged and attracted millions of viewers. Besides the strengths of the Internet itself provides, the investment behind the industry also lays the foundation for Internet platforms to continue to attract talents from traditional media, strengthening their production ability.

Hunan Satellite TV lost to Dragon TV and Zhejiang Satellite TV in Q1 for the fact that traditional giants are under siege by Internet platforms. Under such circumstances, even the forerunner will be affected.

Challenge two: the loss of talents

Without a doubt, Hunan Satellite TV is losing a lot of professional talents. Within just a year, producers, directors and hosts that had achieved glory at the Hunan Satellite TV had been poached by other platforms and eventually left the channel. And the list of it goes on and on.

Last year, the elite producer Xie Dikui, who made Dad, Where Are We Going?, left Hunan Satellite TV and founded Share Media to enter the Internet variety show business, financially backed by Tencent and HG Capital. Currently the company is working on a new show called Let’s Hang Out! Super Stars.

Wang Ping, mother of Super Girls, recently joined YoukuTudou as the senior vice president, being fully in charge of the variety show sector.

Day Day Up’s producer Zhang Yibei also left Hunan Satellite TV and joined the Beijing Star China CMC Media Consultancy as the vice president.

Besides such examples, there are also actors, actresses, hosts, and anchors etc. that are looking for new opportunities from Internet platforms.

For instance, the famous show host He Jiong also started to work for AliMusic as the chief content officer besides hosting Happy Camp at Hunan Satellite TV and Fight For Her. Besides all that, He Jiong has also been active in the Internet variety show industry. So far, he has joined Tencent Video’s Are You Normal and Go! Fridge. It’s said that he will also join Youku to launch a new variety show called We Are Not Stupide.

Besides hosting Day Day Up, Wang Han is embracing video platforms as well as he teamed up with Youku and launched Mars Intelligence Agency.

“I don’t want to get shocked by electricity on shows anynire,” Xie Na once said in the filming scene of the Happy Camp. Subsequently, Xie Na participated in the show ACE VS ACE, produced by Hunan Satellite TV’s rival Zhejiang Satellite TV. Aside from that, she had also hosted her own show Na Show at the Dragon TV, as well as God Of Songs at IQIYI, her very firs attempt in the Internet variety show business.

Without a doubt, the loss of professional talents has hit Hunan Satellite TV at its heart. Years of investment that has been put in training these talents eventually turned out to be a waste. In a time when celebrities and IP really matter, the loss of such figures will definitely undermine major problems for the company. However, on the other hand, this situation also shows that the channel is losing its appeal to attract talents.

Beside the challenges brought by the loss of talents, Hunan Satellite TV also faces the difficulty of recruiting new talents. Ten years ago whenever mentioned about the hosts at Hunan Satellite TV, people would immediately think of He Jiong and Wang Han. The sad thing is, even today people would think of them when asked the same question. Hunan Satellite TV just doesn't seem to have new talents that can take the place of senior ones, which makes it even harder for the channel to keep up with the development of the media industry.

Challenge three: the lack of phenomenal shows

In the TV series sector, Hunan Satellite TV achieved great success with its three products: The Journey of Flower, The Empress of China and The Disguiser. However, in 2016, the channel’s three main shows, which are Legend of Nine Tails Fox, The Classic of Mountains and Seas, and The Love of Happiness, are not having a satisfying performance. In fact, the ratings are quite bad. What’s worst, TV series from other channels continue to challenge Hunan Satellite TV.

Looking from the ratings, the Shanghai-based Dragon TV and Zhejiang Satellite TV are surging with great momentum. On the Q1 ratings leaderboard of 2016, Shanghai Dragon TV’s The Legend of Mi Yue, following The Empress of China’s steps, had a rating above 3.0, which allowed the channel to be dominant on the chart. Zhejiang Satellite TV’s Housewife Detective, Chronicle of Life and Dragon TV’s The Imperial Doctress have pushed Hunan Satellite TV from its throne. Dragon TV’s The Imperial Doctress ranked the first on the ratings leaderboard of March this year, showing the fact that the channel is gaining momentum fast.

Challenge four: The lack of innovation among variety shows and restrictions from the authority

Hunan Satellite TV usually just copies the ideas and elements from other traditional shows. For instance, the channel’s Dad, Where Are We Going? and I Am A Singer have been very successful cases. However, their content hasn’t changed much from the beginning, short of innovation to appeal to the audience.

I Am A Singer season four has the worst rating performance compared with the previous ones. Even the season finale couldn't attract a mass audience. On the other hand, Dad, Where Are We Going? has been devastated by the new policy from the authority which limits the number of shows that involve children. The consequence is that the channel lost 150 million RMB for the potential advertising profit. Hunan Satellite TV’s new show Super Mon also had to go on air on Mango TV instead, losing many potential viewers that Hunan Satellite TV has.

Popular variety shows are also losing momentum as well, as they lack innovation to attract viewers. Up Idol last year, which was backed and joined by many celebrities, didn’t have a good rating performance either. The show Run For Time, which was supposed to counter back Running Man also failed to meet the expectations. Other shows such as We All Love To Laugh, Wonderful Friends, and Takes A Real Man etc. all had a rather ordinary rating. All those once popular shows are now gradually lacking behind while new shows are failing to attract viewers. Without a doubt, Hunan Satellite TV has met its bottleneck.

Hunan Satellite TV falls short of innovative content while the competition continues to heat up in the variety show industry. According to the ratings statistics of 2016 Q1, Zhejiang Satellite TV’s Running Man ranked the first and Dragon TV’s Top Funny Comedian ranked the second in the variety show section with very good comments while Hunan Satellite TV’s top shows Happy Camp and I Am A Singer ranked the fifth and sixth. Compared with these indoor shows, viewers today tend to favor outdoor shows and talk shows.

Surpassed by Zhejiang Satellite TV and Dragon TV

The crisis that Hunan Satellite TV faces today is pretty similar to the one in 2012. At that time, new policies on entertainment shows struck the industry, which resulted in the fall of ratings. Hunan Satellite TV subsequently started to look now new possibilities of TV shows and purchase copyrights from overseas. Its popular show such as Dad,Where Are We Going? and I Am A Singer helped the channel get through that period and become dominant.

So, can Hunan Satellite TV find a way out of this situation? The truth is, the challenges Hunan Satellite TV faces today are much more serious.

Compared with the once dominant channel, Zhejiang Satellite TV and Dragon are keeping up with the trend and make immediate response to the market’s needs. Zhejiang Satellite TV on one hand launched outdoor reality shows such as Running Man and 24 Hours etc., which helped the channel gain momentum fast. Dragon TV on the other hand rolled out innovative shows like JinXing Show, Top Funny Comedian, and outdoor reality shows such as Go fighting! and Sisters Over Flowers etc. that amassed a lot of ratings later.

Besides provincial TV channels, video sites have joined the war as well, burning lots of money to buy copyrights and poach talents. Make no mistake, Hunan Satellite TV in deeply in trouble being sieged by other TV channels and video sites.

Could Hunan Satellite TV make it out of the pit like it did in 2012? One thing is for sure, that is the channel is making efforts to achieve that. This year, Hunan Satellite TV rebooted the once phenomenal reality show Super Girl and started to utilize new technologies and provide new features such as VR and live streaming, aiming to attract viewers with innovation. New hosts such as Shen Mengchen and Li ShaMinzi etc. are starting to appear on the stage of the channel as well. Mango TV, the channel’s forefront that competes directly with video sites, is also gaining attention.

In any case, Hunan Satellite TV’s fall from the throne is a reflection of the changes that are currently taking place in the media industry. New media is developing fast in recent years, which forces traditional media to come up with innovation so as to survive. There’s no doubt that emerging forces have pushed and will continue to push the industry forward as they stimulate the competition.

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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Zou Ling, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]

Translated by Garrett Lee (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.

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