VIDEO: Alibaba’s Weidong Yang

Weidong Yang, president of China’s Youku and Alibaba Digital Media & Entertainment Group, talked about how original series are driving the Chinese online video platform’s paid subscriber base in his MIPTV Media Mastermind keynote, which was followed by a Q&A with World Screen’s Anna Carugati.

During the on-stage Q&A, he discussed the highly competitive nature of the online video market in China, where ten major players five years ago has fallen to three today: Youku, Tencent and iQiyi. Carugati also asked him about Youku’s local programming strategy, which began ten years ago with user-generated content and has since evolved into original high-quality fare. “Some of the online drama series, the quality has surpassed TV drama in China. More and more original drama will be of international quality.”

Youku is also investing in high-quality variety shows—Street Dance of China saw the platform shell out RMB 300 million. “We will also put more money into animation.”

On Youku’s international requirements, Yang said, “We need drama series and variety-show formats and also animation. The international production quality is still more advanced than our local productions. We will catch up, but the global major players can help us to improve our production quality through cooperation. We are starting to explore the possibility of co-producing variety shows, drama series and animation.”