China perspectives #1: Uyoung – cross marketing across all media

Founded in 2000 Uyoung Media Group is focused on the kids media market with a mission of “creating and spreading the joyfulness of children”. The biggest kids TV media sales operator in China, Uyoung has also established the largest syndication network covering over 100 major cities.

It was this mix of media sales and distribution which I discussed with Larry Ding Gang, General Manager of Content Operation Centre for Uyoung Media Group, finding that it only touched the surface of the Uyoung model.

Uyoung acts through three key activities:

  • Content investment – providing finance to targeted production to generate their own IP
  • Content distribution – leveraging the resource of the group across TV, publishing and new media.
  • Branding and Licensing – licensing to generate revenue and brand profile across FMCG, toys and games, publishing and merchandise etc

Originally a media sales agency servicing 50 channels Uyoung then moved to providing both content and advertising across channel time slots. An expanding portfolio then allowed for the creation of new channels for monetisation of the brands developed, well beyond media outlets and into secondary licensing (“derivatives”).

According to Larry this full view across production, distribution and merchandise is vital as the individual elements “cannot carry the costs alone”.

This model is not unique in China, with some toy companies reversing into content, and some media companies such as SMG Toonmax expanding their market, but Uyoung is the only one privately owned and therefore has an advantage in flexibility – and as a result 60% market share.

For the most part Uyoung acts by aggregating local content for syndication across its network of Chinese clients. Most Chinese product is not ready for full international market exploitation, for reasons of content and quality, and so the expectation for external distribution is therefore lower at present (and focused on Asia).

Whilst its inventory is 99% Chinese Uyoung has recently begun to represent familiar UK content such as Shaun the Sheep and In The Night Garden into China for Aardman and BBC Worldwide respectively. The international business is 2 years old, and although looking at merchandising and publishing across 14 product categories, Broadcast is still the main profile driver for the licensing – i.e. the effective shop window. Despite the 1800-2200 weekday restriction on foreign content still being in place, available slots in the morning and weekend work well for pre-school content in drawing an audience. The attention gained through broadcast then opens up the major revenue opportunities for UK content – in merchandise, publishing and new media, with mobile animation as a growth area.

Working with Tencent and QQ as a strategic alliance, and specifically with a social network product with 10M users, Uyoung is also seeking to cross promote online. The online games market, with demographic 12-25 yrs ,is growing fast (c. RMB30M p.a. 2009) and therefore needs to be added to the media mix.

For Larry the twin factors of 350M children under 14 and the one child policy, making parent keen to spend money and spoil their children, are at the core of Uyoung’s focus: “women and kids are the best market”.


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