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A Thesis. Submitted to the Faculty. Drexel University. Yiyan He. in partial fulfillment of the. requirements for the degree.

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Foreign Introduced Reality Television in China s Market A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Drexel University by Yiyan He in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science
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Foreign Introduced Reality Television in China s Market A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Drexel University by Yiyan He in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Television Management Spring 2013 ii Copyright 2013 Yiyan He Reserved iii Acknowledgments I would like to acknowledge and express the deepest appreciation to my committee chair and my program director, Albert Tedesco, who has extensive experience in television and communication field and gives me much support and advice during my years in Drexel University. I cannot thank him enough for his wisdom and support. Many thanks to my thesis advisor, Lydia Timmins who gives me valuable advice regarding the thesis. Without her guidance and help, the thesis would not have been possible. I would like to express my gratitude to all professors of the TV Management program, who give me insights to the different American and Chinese television system and industry. A thank you to my colleagues during my internship at Shanghai Media Group, who let me join the production team of the Amazing Race: China Rush and gain lots of information for the thesis preparation. I also would like to thank my colleagues and supervisors from CNN New York, who brought me into the real American cable network s production. To my loving parents, thank you for believing in me and your support and encouragement. To my friends, thank you for all your comfort and support. Table of Contents Acknowledgments... iii Table of Contents... iv List of Figures... vii Abstract... viii Chapter One: Introduction Introduction Statement of the Problem Purpose of the Study Research Questions Significance to the Field Chapter Two: Review of the Literature Introduction Body of the Review China s Television Market Research Broadcast Structure Research Culture behind the Reality TV and Co-producing Culture Chapter Summary Chapter Three: Methods Introduction China s Got Talent The Amazing Race: China Rush The Voice of China Chapter Four: Results Research Question One The Awareness of Copyrights More Attention to Good Programs of Other Countries Markets Research Question Two The Potential Huge Market Franchise and Derivative Income Low Production Cost Research Question Three Regulations and Rules Audience s Taste and Current Competition Situation Research Question Four The Brand Effect The Professional Production iv 4.4.3 Airing Landscape and Target Audience Chapter Five: Discussion Introduction Discussion Recommendation for Future Research Conclusion References v vi List of Tables Table Table Table Table Table Table vii List of Figures Figure viii Abstract Foreign Introduced Reality Television in China s Market Yiyan He From the hit of Super Girls Voice in 2004, Chinese audience got to know the new genre of television programs, reality TV. Various types of reality television appear on TV and such reality programs have been popular since then. Before 2010, the laws about TV program copyrights were not clear in Mainland China; so there were lots of shows whose format were copied from foreign popular shows in China s media market. Since 2010, some foreign reality shows were introduced while there are still a number of shows plagiarized from foreign shows. Those introduced shows got much attention and became hot topics during airing. In 2012 and 2013, more TV stations chose to buy and broadcast Chinese version introduced shows for prime time slot. But does the Chinese audience accept the introduced programs? Do the introduced shows affect the China s TV market? The purpose of the study is to research the current reality television market of China for foreign introduced programs and at the same time to get to know the real Chinese audience s taste for reality television and market of reality TV for interested foreign media investors and local production companies. Three popular different-style introduced reality shows are discussed. The thesis concludes that brand effect, professional production, right broadcasting landscape and other basic elements of the reality TV are the key factors for an introduced or a co-produced show to succeed in China s market. ix x 11 Chapter One: Introduction 1.1 Introduction 1926 was a meaningful year for the television history. It was in that year that the world's first television system that could broadcast moving pictures was successfully tested and publicly demonstrated (Kamm & Baird, 2002). And John Logie Baird, the inventor of the television system, once said that television would one day make every family a mini cinema (People Daily, 2003). After more than eight decades, what he stated has already been realized. Television has become one of the most essential media of people s everyday life (People Daily, 2003). According to the statistics from Worldbank, the share of household with television of the whole world is 84.46%, in which 97.29% for high-income countries and 88.9% for the middle countries in And the proportion kept rising from 2000 to 2004 (see Table 1). As an influential medium in the 20 th century, television changed people s life (Luo, 2009). 12 Table 1 The Share of Household with Television of the whole world from 2000 to 2004(%) Country The World High-income Countries Middle-income Countries Low-income Countries Mainland China Hong Kong Japan Korea Singapore USA France Germany Italy UK From Worldbank, 2004 People watch news programs to get to know what is happening in the local neighborhood and the world. People watch science programs to know more about the earth and nature. People watch dramas to be moved and relaxed. People watch game show to get excitement and fulfillment. The audience plays an active role in the media consumption (Elihu, Blumler and Gurevitch, 2011). People integrate media into their lives. Audiences are responsible for choosing media to meet their desires and needs to achieve gratification (Elihu, Blumler and Gurevitch, 2011, NP). TV shows can be generally divided into two large genres: information programs and entertainment TV. The information programs include all news, interview, information shows. And the other shows like game, drama, 13 reality TV, and lottery shows are labeled as entertainment programs. Compared with information show, entertainment program is the genre of television that audience has no need to think for most of time (Xie, 2009). And such entertainment programs have a large audience (Jordan, 2008). What s more, many entertainment shows can be syndicated and rebroadcast on network; they can be sold to other networks and their formats can be sold to media of other countries. The reality competition show Idol series was a good example. There have been 46 version of Pop Idol in the whole world had been aired till now (Fremantle Media, ND). The Got Talent Show has spun off in more than 50 territories (Fremantle Media, ND). Reality TV, which is attractive to lots of audiences, shows unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, unexpected events, and usually features ordinary people instead of professional actors (Hill, 2005). And it is a genre between entertainment show and documentary, but more entertaining than documentary. The participants in the show have no script to act and they had to face those unexpected elements that may happen anytime during the show. Reality TV gives the viewer not the authenticity and explanation of the documentary, but the spectacle of the everyday and a focus on the performance of identity (Orlebar, 2011, P111). Reality television exploded as a hit during (Hill, 2005). The first season of Big Brother in 1999 got about 10 million viewers in UK and according to data, the second season gave the channel more than 70% increase on their average broadcast share 14 (Hill, 2005). The Survivor series began broadcasting in the United States from 2000 and was one of 10 most watched shows on television from 2000 to 2006 (Carey, 2012). Since the unexpected hit of reality TV like Big Brother and Survivor, this brand-new genre of TV shows caught many an audience s attention even on a global scale. But meanwhile critics and commentators began to question this popular genre of TV programs. They thought that such show would fade out soon after its boom (Xie, 2009). After these years of changing, mixing and innovation, reality television is still alive and even more popular. Various sub-styles of reality television have been on air. Game, competition, sitcom-style reality shows come out one after another. One decade later, Survivor brought TV into a new age that made formulaic scripted fare an embattled if not endangered species (Shales, 2009). And the show was regarded as one of top 10 best of TV of the decade (Shales, 2009). The 26 th season of US version Survivor is on air in And the show is one of the most popular shows in America and got several Emmy awards since the first season s launch. The US version of the Amazing Race is shot approximately twice a year and it has been broadcasted for 21seasons till And the 22 nd season premiered on February 17th 2013 (CBS, 2012). Almost every episode of the show ranks the first (See Table 2). At the same time, various versions of Pop Idol gain popularity in America, Europe and other continents. There are Australian Idol and Indonesian Idol which have been broadcasted 7 seasons. And there are already 49 countries versions aired till 2013. 15 Table 2 Rating of the 22 nd season The Amazing Race in U.S. Airdate Rating Share Rating Share Viewers Households (Millions) 2013/2/ /2/ /3/ /3/ /3/ /3/ /3/ /4/ Airdate Rank Rank Rank Rank Timeslot (Viewers) Timeslot (18-49) Week (Viewers) Week (18-49) 2013/2/ /2/ 25 /3/ /3/ /3/ /3/ /3/ /4/ From U.S. Nielsen Rating & Wikipedia, 2013 People nowadays can watch different reality shows every day on cable. Because of its unscripted and interactive characteristic, reality television attracts a large number of audiences. What s more, because of its low production cost, high profit and rebroadcast availability, it is also production companies and networks choice (Joyner, 2010). Almost any network has at least one reality show on air every week. Fox even has the Fox Reality Channel. The profitable market of reality TV is nothing to be sneezed at. 16 While the reality show is growing up rapidly in western countries, a talent competition show Super Girls Voice(2004) brought unexpected attention and popularity in Mainland China. Super Girls Voice was not the first reality show aired in China, but since then, the prosperity of reality TV indeed stimulated the entertainment TV market of Mainland China (Xia & Wang, 2007). Audiences become more and more curious about this new genre of TV programs. Chinese media professionals later found the attractive reality television market of China. From so many Chinese reality shows aired till 2013, there are a certain number of foreign introduced shows except local and original created ones. No matter what nationality the show is, they all run follow the similar formats that audience sitting in front of the TV set determine the life cycle of show. People may think original created shows should have more audience and rating. But it is not the case. Some original created reality shows such as Come On, Men, Fei Chang You Xi of Shanghai Media Group (SMG) only broadcasted one or two seasons (Dragon TV, 2007). Meanwhile, foreign introduced shows became much more popular than local ones and were shot and broadcasted for more seasons in China s market. Since the launch of China s Got Talent Show in 2010, the show has been broadcasted for four seasons and SMG has extended the contract with the show s owner Talpa Media for the other three seasons copyrights (Zhu, 2013). Thanks to the development of Internet and technology, the audience nowadays has more access to foreign TV shows through the Internet. Numerous foreign shows were recorded and uploaded on video sharing websites (Beijing Business, 2012). When the author typed the got talent show on yuku.com, the biggest and most popular video 17 sharing website in China, 528 results appeared. And when typing the voice, 7645 results appeared. Foreign reality shows have had good reputation in Chinese audience s eye (Zhu, 2013). And the amount of foreign shows of the web site has become the success point of viewing war of video sharing websites (Zhu, 2013). But there are still invisible obstacles on the way of foreign shows entrance to the China s reality TV market. Language, culture, law regulations and other factors make it much more difficult for foreign introduced programs grow and develop in Mainland China. 1.2 Statement of the Problem Countries with large media holdings such as the United States and United Kingdom have grown more mature and have more high-end broadcast and production system than China. With advanced shooting, post-production technologies and experience, few media production companies and investors from these countries began to aim at the entertainment television market of China (Gong, 2012). But no one is sure whether the share of China s market and industry growth potential will increase or not in years to come. In China s huge entertainment television market, whether a foreign show can be welcomed depends not only on its reputation; the domestic media industry, current development situation, local regulation and limitation and the diverse culture all affect the show. Since China is a developing country, and also because of Chinese custom and tradition, there are more limitations and regulations in the Chinese broadcast and television system, which in some part obstruct Chinese local shows growth, affect good foreign 18 shows introduction into China (China.com.cn, 2003). According to the Cutback on Entertainment announced by China s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (CSARFT), For every satellite TV station, no more than two entertainment programs can be aired during prime time from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. every night (CSARFT, 2011). In last few years, global television co-production became more common than before (Selznick, 2008). But culture shock still exists everywhere in the era of globalization. Refer to official data, thousand Chinese students go aboard for study, which occupy 14% of the whole number of the oversea students of the world and rank the first (Overseas Chinese Education Report, 2012). Meanwhile, the number of foreign students in China is higher than 290 thousands (China News, 2012). A large number of foreign people live in China while many Chinese people go out of country for learning and living. With such statistics, it seems that eastern and western cultures have been well combined in these years. But that doesn t mean Chinese audience accepts all the culture of foreign TV shows. 1.3 Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to research the current reality television market of China for foreign introduced programs. To know well the situation and investment availability, the outstanding foreign reality programs can be successfully introduced into China. And for Chinese production workers, the shooting and post-production technologies 19 can be advanced during the reality television co-production of the Chinese version of the show. Many western business and trade corporations regard China as a promising market and focus on the huge Chinese market of their business. All-American companies such as Apple, Nike and the Gap have expanded their business in Mainland China (Epstein & Meredith, 2010). Starbucks and Coca Cola both regard China as their top profitable market (Epstein & Meredith, 2010). Those American companies directly invested around $ 3.6 billion into Mainland China in 2009 (Epstein & Meredith, 2010). Because of the high amount of population and the growing needs for entertainment, China is also a large and profitable television market for media and production corporations to launch and develop their TV shows. The media and entertainment business is facing new opportunities and challenges, as it markets its products and services to the 1.3 billion people that make up the most populated country in the world (Ernst& Young, 2012). For Chinese local media workers, it is also a brilliant and great opportunity for growth to co-produce with foreign media companies. Nevertheless, if the target audience and local culture tradition are well handled, foreign reality shows can become the same hit in China like in western countries. The differences in history, culture and tradition, especially the culture shock of eastern and western countries, affect the audience s choice for watching shows and the growth of a show (Zhao, 2005). In order to realize the real Chinese audience s taste for reality shows and market of reality TV for interested foreign media investors and local 20 production workers, the research analyzed three shows which were introduced to Chinese audience from 2010 to How the three different introduced shows caught the audience and got success are studied in following chapters. Through the detailed case study, China s market of reality TV is analyzed and the key factors for co-produced shows popularity are summarized. In this way, western media corporations can better invest and develop their shows in China s market with the low production cost and high revenue. Another goal of the study was to encourage Chinese media professionals and workers to innovate and create good and even brand-new types of reality shows. 1.4 Research Questions 1. What s the impact of popular western introduced reality shows on Chinese audience and media staff? 2. What can foreign media investors achieve through the introduced reality shows in china? 3. What s the difference between China and Western market for reality TV? 4. How can a company produce a profitable and Chinese-welcomed reality show in China? What are the key factors? 1.5 Significance to the Field The study examines the key factors for foreign introduced shows to succeed in 21 China s market, and conclude whether it is right for foreign media investors and media companies to invest or co-produce the reality TV in China s market. The study encourages more creativity and innovations from Chinese local media as well. In the long term, the healthy competition, high profit and mature television market make the Chinese reality TV grow well and let China to be a leading media country in the future. 22 Chapter Two: Review of the Literature 2.1 Introduction Entertainment TV shows are one kind of indispensable types of TV shows people watch (Wang, 2011). Reality TV has most become the subject of viewers and media academics interest in the 21 century. The popularity of any reality show always brings critic reviews and good comments. Adopting constructed situations, reality television is a mix of several types of shows. It can be regarded as a situation comedy as the show is based on certain settings and characters that cannot leave the show. It can be regarded as documentary because the show is the factual records of human behavior and relationship from hidden cameras. It can be regarded as drama as the show has detailed exploration of participants behavior and actions. It can be also regarded as game show since the participants in the show usually compete for the final prize. It can be regarded as talk show because the show reflects some social issues and participants personal confession. It can be regarded as lifestyle television as the show focus on changing the persona and showing the changing social relations (Orlebar, 2011, P45). More and more production companies and media corporations of western countries noticed the obvious advantages of reality TV and create and develop many popular and successful shows since 2000 (Orlebar, 2011). The hit of reality TV also affects the media market of Mainland China. Various reality shows broadcasted since the success launch of Super Girls Voice in 2004 (Hu, 2006). This genre of televisio
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