Tencent's e-book spinoff eyes North American expansion

(Reuters) – Tencent’s e-book spinoff China Literature is looking to grow its North American business as it seeks to tap surging demand for content outside its home market, a senior executive told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: China Literature Co-Chief Executive Officers Liang Xiaodong (L) and Wu Wenhui pose during a news conference on the company’s IPO in Hong Kong, China October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

The company’s Webnovel platform, which hosts its non-Chinese language content, has already signed 50,000 writers in North America and the company aims to double that to by the end of the year.

“Similar to what we have been doing in China, we are seeing users who like our content turning to be writers on our platform,” Sandra Chen, China Literature’s head of international business, told Reuters in an interview.

Chen said China Literature is focusing on North America for its “infrastructure, its demand for good content, and an existing user willingness to pay for content.”

Tencent, China’s largest social media and video games company, last year put China Literature and two other firms in its content stable, New Classic Media and Tencent Pictures, under one management as part of an integrated film and TV production strategy.

Analysts say Tencent wants to build a Chinese Disney by transferring its vast intellectual property holdings from animation, online literature and video games on to the big screen.

Webnovel has more than 200,000 original English language titles and 1,000 pieces translated from Chinese.

Chen said China Literature decided to seize on the overseas market when it realised there were voluntary translations of novels from its Chinese platform, such as “Qing Yu Nian”, a popular ancient romance.

“Qing Yu Nian”, or Joy of Life, was subsequently developed into a 46-episode TV drama that has been streamed more than 8 billion times. The show has an IMDb rating of 8.2 out of 10.

“We are very clear of the long-term hope we have for the overseas market, which is to transplant the strategy proven successful in China to the new market, to build a content eco-system where we could build on our IP,” said Chen.

China Literature is also open to partnerships with foreign platforms such as Netflix, Chen added.

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