Indian video powerhouse, Pocket Aces has entered China’s biggest internet market with over 731 million users. With this deal, Pocket Aces becomes the first Indian digital content creator to be available on one of China’s biggest websites, Youku Tudou, which is owned by e-commerce giant Alibaba. WebTVAsia is YouTube certified multi-channel network and one of the three global partners for Youku Tudou which sources shortform content across the globe for the host platform.
Pocket Aces creates content across 3 channels – Dice Media (premium web series), FilterCopy (sharable and snackable short-form content) and Gobble (all things food) which reaches over 40 million people weekly on its own properties. Pocket Aces which creates both long and short format content for digital consumption was co-founded by Aditi Srivastava, Ashwin Suresh and Anirudh Pandita.
Pocket Aces’ Aditi Shrivastava said, “We’re very excited to partner with WebTV Asia to distribute our content to one of China’s biggest platforms, Youku Tudou, which has over 500 million monthly active users. Our content has resonated with audiences across geographies as it touches upon core human attributes, so we’re confident that it will hit the right chords in China as well. We are starting with syndicating short form content as currently that works much better with audiences in China. Subsequently, we will look at putting our long form content on Youku Tudou as well. With our rich IP library and large distribution, our goal is to reach and entertain audiences worldwide and make Pocket Aces a global brand.”
The partnership will kick-off with FilterCopy and Gobble, each having a dedicated section on the Youku Tudou platform. FilterCopy is a social sharable short form comedy based on everyday life of Indian families and youth. Gobble is a food recipe short form genre, gathering the best cuisines of India. The content will be subtitled into Chinese jointly implemented by the Youku Tudou and WebTVAsia’s China teams. The content will have subtitles in English and Mandarin and in some instances, it will be dubbed as well as localised for the Chinese audience. The partnership will launch with an initial batch of 10 short form episodes and subsequent weekly episodic release.
The three year old Pocket Aces claims to have grown 10 times in the last 2 quarters with a large part of the top line being driven by short form content. Pocket Aces is planning 4 new releases in the long form content business and expects the format revenue to surge from current 30% to 50%.
According to WebTVAsia’s Group CEO, Fred Chong, WebTVAsia has always believedin the vision of ‘Celebrate Asia’, by showcasing the best of Asian creators and content to the world and cross-promote within Asian countries.
“China is the first expansion beyond our Malaysia home market since 2013 where we have established solid relationship with key partners like Youku Tudou. Initially it was to approach them as a YouTube MCN partner to build their presence outside China, and later as a campaign coproduction partner for Little Apple’s global viral video. Now, we have finally appointed them as a global partner for short form content.
“China’s internet user appetite for fresh international content is growing, riding on the box office success of Bollywood hit Dangal in the mainland. We believe this presents a great opportunity and the right moment to bridge Indian content to China. Our close rapport with leading Indian digital video studios and creators such as Pocket Aces, The Viral Fever,BB Ki Vines and Poonam Pandey which we have been in collaboration on several initiatives since 2014 have further backed this cause,” said Fred.
The partnership is based on a 50-50 revenue share agreement and will eventually see the Sequoia Capital backed company expand operations to Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea and Indonesia as well. It will be a premium advertising revenue shared model based on video view performance on the WebTVAsia channel within the Youku Tudou platform. They expect this content distribution, localisation and marketing partnership to further develop into a deeper content and talent co-production collaboration once there are good traction with existing content. Pocket Aces is also in talks with global media companies in other countries for partnerships possibilities.
The deal did not clarify if Chinese content will reciprocate in the near future. However, Fred said, “Yes, it will, in a matter of time. The question is “when” rather than “if”. We are talking to Indian OTT operators who see the prospects of an international content mix in their offerings. Chinaproduction and creative quality has improved by several notches and have a bright future as a content export powerhouse like South Korea.”
The agreement is expected to generate a new bullish experience in the Chinese digital video space of Youku Tudou, which is touted as China’s “You Tube”, valued at less than 5% of Alibaba’s market capitalisation and it holds a leading market share of more than 21% in the growing Chinese online video market.
Through Youku Tudou’s acquisition, Alibaba can add it to its e-commerce portfolio, get access to a large user base, and strengthen its already dominant position in Chinese e-commerce. Further, access to Youku Tudou’s strong user base of nearly 570 million users can provide Alibaba with a broader audience to market its e-commerce offerings.
With viewing figures like that, it’s no exaggeration to call the partnership a phenomenon. But Fred said, “These are early days of Pocket Aces making its pioneering entrants into the China digital video space. We have not set expectations but based on total usernumber of 450 million on Youku Tudou, even a 0.1% conversion will be 450,000 unique viewers. We hope to achieve more than that once a strong brand promotion is rolled out.”