The Chinese media market is notoriously difficult due to the omnipresent influence of China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China (SAPPRFT), the administrative body which censors regulates the country’s film, radio, and television industries. With the growing presence of streaming video throughout the world, SAPPRFT has had its work cut out for it when it comes to censoring regulating and monitoring the streaming content in the Middle Kingdom.
There are a handful of Chinese-owned streaming services which do quite well throughout the country, but foreign-owned services have had a difficult time breaking into the Chinese market. After years of attempts to cut through China’s regulatory red tape, Netflix finally penned streaming agreements for a few of its original series with Chinese streaming services. Now, however, the Chinese government is launching one of it’s good ol’ communist-style crackdowns on streaming services, and worried investors don’t know what to make of it.
As soon as the crackdown as announced, Nasdaq reported that stocks of Chinese streaming services began plummeting. Three Chinese websites which offer video streaming services, Sina Weibo, iFeng, and ACFUN, were told by the Chinese government to stop all streaming video because they were “not in line with national audiovisual regulations and propagating negative speech,” whatever that means – which is usually whatever the Chinese government wants it to mean.
While the move is allegedly political in nature, it could possibly have dire repercussions for the future of Chinese video streaming altogether. The NFL, for example, just signed a deal last year with Sina Weibo to stream games in China. It is unclear how this new announcement could affect that deal. As with all developments in China, the more things change, the more they stay the same.