• Jason Gleave

The Great Firewall of China is a myth and China is open for event streaming

Updated: Jun 6, 2019

Whether for an internal communications event, a high profile product launch, or an experiential activation, China is ready to embrace the opportunity both commercially and technically and it just needs careful planning and preparation to ensure success.

As of the start of 2017, 731 million internet users originated from China. A figure that is more than twice that of America’s entire population, fuelling the “see now buy now” streaming phenomena, where 400 million viewers in China connected to streams for ‘Singles Day’, the Chinese equivalent of Black Friday, the Academy Awards, New Year’s Eve and the Super Bowl all in one day!

The platforms of YouKu, Iqiyi, Meipai, Tmall Live, Tencent Live, Taobao Live, Huajiao Live, Inke and Yizhibo, are just the tip of over 200 Chinese live streaming platforms, that dwarf the activity in the rest of the world.

Live streaming has exploded in growth in China; both in terms of the consumption of video and the creation of it - the vast majority produced by individuals. When it comes to stories of clamping down and interruption of live streaming in China, this is generally referring to issues with user generated live streaming activity. However, if you have an event which is credible and will not contain political or contentious content, then you should not fear the regulatory landscape and just focus the majority of your efforts on ensuring the technical solution being provided is robust.

With 20 years of experience of successfully broadcasting live coverage of events for clients worldwide, I see it is as sensible to be cautious and concerned and to tread the path carefully when you plan to broadcast coverage of your events whether into or out of China, or both.

Not a dissimilar story to live webcasting, in the early days in the rest of the world, the Chinese landscape has produced many unfortunate experiences. Virtually all the disasters, unsuccessful or far-from-perfect deliveries, could have been avoided with a different approach.

The following is meant for consideration by the event organiser, whether agency or the end client.

Top Tips:

  • Ensure you are working with suppliers who are experienced and have a proven track record of successfully streaming events into and out of China.

  • Confirm the video platforms that are most relevant to the event i.e Youku, Iqiyi, WeChat, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the client’s website and any partner sites. Ensure you have the correct access permissions, to administrate on the platforms, well in advance of any agreed testing.

  • Understand the deliverables; for example, include simultaneous interpretation, dual language feeds or live captioning (if English is not the speakers’ native language), or if the client asks for Facebook Live, will they also require 15 country Facebook pages to be presented with individual live feeds as well?

  • Prepare a routing plan for the delivery of all feeds, whether into or out of China, to ensure robustness and resilience. This may involve a combination of satellite and IP and may be one-way or two-way.

  • Ensure you draft a risk management plan. Work through this with all partners. Prepare for the imperfect broadcast to ensure success.

  • Incorporate as much testing as possible and draft a detailed testing plan (we would recommend two stages pre-event and then from the venue/s) with a comprehensive checklist (including failover / redundancy). Please ensure that you have at least two tiers of feedback (supplier team and client team) to cross-check the test feeds.

Best wishes for your broadcasting ambitions for your next event, I hope it can include China in your plans and if you need any advice please feel free to reach out to us.

About the Author:

Jason Gleave is the founder and chief executive of FlyOnTheWall, the event broadcasting company (