“Prison Break’”s Underground Success in China
It was a ritual. Every week, minutes after Fox’s drama “Prison Break” aired in the U.S., Chinese fans of the show began searching for the bit torrent seed of the episode.
Those with sufficient English could watch the show straightaway; those who didn’t could wait a couple of hours for translation teams, themselves fans of the show, to have subtitles ready.
After viewing the show, fans swarmed to message boards, either excited or unsatisfied, to discuss the show intensely, commenting on everything from plot to set, actors and creators. Then they waited anxiously for the next week’s episode
Through this process, “Prison Break” became an unprecedented success, one that no other foreign TV drama has ever rivaled. Chinese youth were likely to greet each other with questions like “Have you watched the new episode?” and “Michael Scofield is so cool, right?”
Since people couldn’t get enough of the show, some guys set up an online TV station, illegally streaming the show 24/7. When Fox ended the show after four seasons, Chinese fans couldn’t accept the fact and began writing their own episodes. Some diehard fans are even shooting their versions of “Prison Break.”
The creators of the show finally came to understand that there is a huge untapped fan base in China and that they should capitalize on it. Wentworth Miller, the actor who played Michael Scofield on the show and is wildly popular among Chinese fans, has come to China three times doing product endorsements and being interviewed on China’s most popular talk show.
All of this happened without a single episode ever airing on a TV station in mainland China. How did this massive phenomenon occur?
In 2003, China Central Television paid top dollar to bring HBO’s superb World War Two epic, “Band of Brothers,” to the Chinese audience. The ratings were abysmal. Why? CCTV ran “Band” two years after its U.S. airing. Those who really wanted to watch had already viewed it via pirated DVDs or Internet downloads.
The lesson for ambitious Hollywood production companies in Hwho want to include China in their international marketing plan is quite obvious: get in fast. Demographically speaking, China’s largest viewing audience are people in their 20s or 30s. They are technologically sufficient enough to get download them online. At the same time, they also want to be treated equally. They want to watch their favorite shows at the same time as the American audience.
Therefore, content providers should think outside the box and allow international viewers to watch programs on the broadcaster’s Web sites. The revenue stream could come from product placement, product endorsements, marketing show-related products, or even viewer donation.
As traditional content delivery mechanisms are becoming increasingly obsolete, it is essential that the owners and creators of content rethink their strategies for global distribution of their products.
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 Amanda Bynes’s Behavior Revealed to Be Elaborate PSA
- 2 Obama Horrified by the Grammar in Our Emails
- 3 Monster Fart Prompting Management to Rethink “Open Office”
- 4 NSA Demanded Access To Un-Filtered Instagram Photos
- 5 Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Ambushed By Alan ‘The Paper’ Rubinstein
- 6 ‘Licensed to Kim Jong Il’ Records 27th Straight Year Atop N. Korean Charts
- 7 ‘A/S/L’ Most Asked Question At Kaplan Online University Reunion
- 8 Vice Magazine Now Only Hiring Writers Who Fail Drug Test
- 9 Stanley Cup Final One Blowout Away From “Boston Massacre” Headline Outrage