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Tencent's own 'content universe' on the horizon

By HE WEI in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2020-10-27 08:51

People walk past a Tencent sign at the company headquarters in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, Aug 7, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Tencent Holdings Ltd said it is looking to forge a comprehensive content ecosystem in the next five years.

The ecosystem will encompass intellectual property creations, the production as well as distribution of high-quality films, according to a senior company executive.

With fostering indigenous IP at its core, the internet giant is expecting to build a prototype of its own "content universe", said Edward Cheng, vice-president of Tencent.

This, he said, would require deepened coordination among Tencent's "troika" of subsidiaries-Tencent Pictures, its movie and TV series production and investment arm; China Literature, the cradle of original IP; and New Classics Media, a film production specialist.

"We want to integrate the three critical phases in movie production and form a close loop," he told China Daily in an interview. "This is critical to what I call construction of 'new infrastructure' for content."

His remarks came as Tencent hosted the first joint news conference earlier this week among the trio, unveiling the annual pipeline of its film and television works.

Updates on a total of 56 projects were announced, including plans to release an epic film 1921 to commemorate the centenary anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party of China, as well as the second season of Qing Yu Nian, a sought-after drama adapted from a namesake popular online novel.

"While the COVID-19 pandemic has savaged the film industry for a certain period of time, the sector's quick bounce back in China is a vote of confidence that people's pursuit of better stories is essential to their mental well-being," he said.

Known for a wide array of offerings from online gaming and messaging to mobile payment, Tencent has in recent years fortified the cultural focus, a frontier it believed would generate longer-term value and hence get its users more "hooked".

Cheng said the coordinated efforts between the three units are the latest exemplification of the "Neo-Culture Creativity" strategy Tencent launched two years ago, which emphasizes the synergies across different Tencent vehicles spanning gaming, comics and animation, online literature, film and esport.

"The continuous generation of creative ideas and making them scalable could incur prohibitive prices for cultural companies," he said. "That's why, we aim to leverage resources of different company units to support and expedite the process of IP promotion, production and commercialization."

Heralding Tencent's cultural and entertainment strategy and reform, Cheng envisions to build the arm into a comprehensive and robust chain that incubates, promotes and capitalizes on IP.

"The respect for IP is essentially the respect for the emotion of spectators," he said.

Cheng took the helm as CEO of China Literature in April, as the internet conglomerate plans to focus on better commercializing literary content, combining technologies and other business modes under the Tencent umbrella.

During last year's Shanghai International Film Festival, the company said it is hoping to be involved in the production and distribution of around 100 movies and TV series in the next three to five years as the internet giant banks on digital technology to bolster what is soon expected to be the world's top movie market.

Efforts include use of big data to build movie viewers' profiles and predict their viewing requirements, as well as leveraging its wealth of social media platforms to promote titles.

"Adapting TV novels into TV series and movies has become increasingly popular," said Wilson Chow, the telecom, media and technology practice leader at consultancy PwC, in a report. "As this trend is red hot now, the fees for using such copyrights are also skyrocketing."

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