Market in China is mysterious. TV market in China is even more mysterious. There are lots of restrictions on the OTT market. The “authority” to build an OTT service only reserved to a few local companies trusted by the government. Smart TV application even seems out of the question for foreign company. How does Chinese users’ response to Smart TV app? Would they use it? I have done some little attempt previously.
The Restriction of Smart TV Application in China
Due to the law and order in mainland China, all the Smart TV manufacturer has to partner with a local media company. Samsung (together with two local brands TCL and Himedia) has partnered with “Mango TV” (under Hunan Broadcasting System). Besides serving their own OTT application on the platform, Mango TV also hold the responsibility for the content (especially video) being shown on Samsung Smart TV over the internet. Internet video to be shown on Smart TV is under very strict restriction and the only way to serve your video application is to do partnership with “Mango TV”.
Prohibition of video application on Smart TV sounds like the end of story. However, in this special environment, the Chinese developers strive so hard to build different app to delight the audience. Lots of Applications for News, photo albums, games, shopping and even property agencies could be found on the app store.
The “Ticker” Application
To test the market here, I had tried to build a “ticker” app. A “ticker” application is a special type of application which the app interface would overlay the TV screen. So the user could view the information from the application while they are watching TV. It is the unique user experience on Smart TV and it couldn’t be reproduced elsewhere on phones, tablets, PCs, game consoles or OTT set-top boxes
The “Ticker” application I built was simple. It is a “Live Score” application simply showing the current score for each of the European matches together with some fixtures and statistics. The users could simply check with those score data while they are watching a football match, and overlooking how other matches playing at the same time.
I built that application in 2014 and tried to catch the World Cup. Without any promotion, I got unique visitors of 2699 on June 2014 and over 7,500 unique visitors within the first year (considering we are only target some particular year models for one single brand, Samsung). Users flocked in on the match days. The proportion of active users are much higher than those in other places (e.g. Hong Kong). It seems the users appreciate the very simple value of a Smart TV application with little user control (just to show and hide the ticker).
The other interesting finding is that Chinese users are willing to look for the applications from the app store and try them out. Unlike other countries, that the users would rely on the pre-install killer video app and never take a look on the app store, the Chinese users are much more willing to explore new experience on TV.