BEIJING: Competition in the Chinese online video sector seems set to increase, as several government-backed media firms expand their operations on the web.
China Central Television, Shanghai Media Group and Hunan Television have all recently said they will make more content available on the internet.
Baidu, which is China's biggest search engine, has similarly announced its own plans to host copyrighted videos online.
In the US, Hulu, an ad-supported service backed by firms including News Corp and Disney, allows domestic web users to view free TV content, and is reported to have picked up viewers from YouTube since its launch three years ago.
Edward Yu, ceo of Analysys International, a research firm, commented: "The success of Hulu in the US has emboldened Chinese companies and media groups of this business model's huge potential."
Youku.com and Tudou.com – the YouTube-style, foreign capital-backed sites which dominate the online video market at present – have both faced accusations of carrying pirated content, and could be hit hard by the launch of the new sites.
Smaller firms specialising in streaming live TV content, including Xunlei and PPStream, are likely to be more vulnerable still.
Gary Wang, ceo of Tudou.com, said: "We are dancing with a group of elephants ... If we don't dance carefully, we could easily get crushed."
In an interview with China Daily, Victor Koo, ceo of Youku.com, said the amount of authorised, rather than pirated, content on the site would greatly increase during 2010.
Koo also suggested that the impact of the government-backed online video services on his business might not prove to be as bad as initially predicted.
Data sourced from China Daily; additional content by Warc staff