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Chinese TV maker targets US audience

By LIA ZHU in San Francisco | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2016-12-22 13:44

To appeal to a broader audience, China's electronics giant TCL has recently added streaming service GoLive on to all of its smart TVs in the US.

The service, launched by TCL in 2014, was previously only available in China. It provides access to more than ten video-on-demand packages, with over 200 streaming channels from China.

The GoLive TV package also features five English-language channels for non-Chinese speaking audiences, said the company.

TCL's research shows that growing numbers of US consumers want to stream their favorite content on their own time, whenever they want. Many are also looking to cut the cord with cable providers in an effort to save on monthly expenses, according to a TCL spokesman.

Offering streaming services and options will be a "critical component" to the company's "ongoing success" in the US market, the spokesman added.

Currently, the TCL Roku TV lineup offers more than 3,500 channels and over 350,000 movies and television shows, according to the company.

"Given the diversity of our population," the addition of GoLive means targeting the Chinese language customers in the US, the spokesman said.

The GoLive's library of programs includes live shows from China, 80 real-time high definition channels, and popular Chinese channels like Hunan TV and Zhejiang TV.

Chinese video streaming giant LeEco in October announced it would build a new streaming platform called LeEco Live in the US with partners such as Showtime, Lionsgate and MGM, but minus apps of major sports leagues.

The company is reported to have offered LeEco Live access to its smart TV and smartphone users, but no further information has been disclosed as to when and where the service will be released.

But analysts said it's challenging for the Chinese TV makers to do built-in streaming service in the US.

"The challenge here for Chinese companies is that none of their brands are at all familiar in the US video space. Even though smart TVs have sold in decent numbers, the selling point has almost always been Netflix, Hulu, or other well known video apps, not apps from the TV makers themselves," said Jan Dawson, chief analyst of Jackdaw Research.

"Built-in streaming services simply aren't a consideration when people are choosing a TV in the US," he said. "I could see a well-established brand like Samsung doing something like this a bit more successfully," he added.

TCL has been stepping up investment in sports content and marketing as it finds in their research and sales data that a large portion of their buyers say watching sports is a driver behind their purchase, according to Michelle Mao, president of TCL North America.

The TCL 4K Roku TVs provide access to subscription services that provide out-of-market games, live and on-demand streaming through a cable or satellite provider and free channels with sports highlights and live games for those without cable subscriptions, the company said.

TCL, short for "The Creative Life", has sold more than 1 million TCL Roku TV sets in the US since it was launched in 2014. A new line of 4K Ultra HD TVs powered by Roku was unveiled in January 2016 and has been available in the US market since March.

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