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Chinese build Hulu iPlayer catch-up services using Czech know-how

The announcement of an innocent supplier contract has revealed that 19 Chinese broadcasters are pooling together to create something similar to the BB


Published: 19 May, 2011


The announcement of an innocent supplier contract has revealed that 19 Chinese broadcasters are pooling together to create something similar to the BBC iPlayer or Hulu. Such a project would almost certainly dwarf both the complexity and the scale of anything previously launched, and lead to one of the biggest internet video focal points on the planet.

The new system is called China United Television and while most coverage focused on the contract with Kit Digital, technically a Czech Republic based company, with 1,200 employees and offices all over the world, it turns out that there has been no prior announcement of the project. Clearly given the huge number of Chinese broadband users, and the size of the population, a project like this was always going to be on the cards, and the fact that Chinese broadcasters have reached out and asked for help from a company that has done this sort of thing before, implies that they know how difficult fine tuning such a project can be.

Kit Digital says it has over 2,200 clients in 50 countries, including

some of the world's biggest brands, such as Airbus, The Associated Press,

BBC, Best Buy, Disney-ABC, FedEx, GM, Google, HP, News Corp, Telefonica, Universal Studios and Verizon. It has just taken over ioko, the UK software specialist which helped the BBC build iPlayer and also built the BSkyB player

The deal is for the Kit Platform, a multi-screen IP video software system

developed for a consortium of 19 leading television stations and newspapers throughout China, led by the Shenzhen Media Group.

The new platform was unveiled on May 13 at the China International Cultural Industries Fair (ICIF) in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. Kit Digital launched its presence in China in December last year, almost certainly to work on building this system. The Chinese operation is a partnership with Morse Chen, the founder and former CEO of China’s first premium video portal

“We are excited and honored to be selected by this new nationwide consortium of television stations to distribute content over multiple screens to millions of viewers across China,” said Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, Kit Digital's chairman and CEO. “We believe KIT digital was selected because we are uniquely able to bridge the gap between the traditional digital video systems and new IP-based solutions. CUTV will offer Chinese users an unparalleled experience to view content from multiple local TV stations on an over-the-top (OTT) basis, and enable anytime-and-anywhere TV access by households nationwide.”

The system has been set up so that it can scale to hundreds of provincial and municipal TV stations across China, which are expected to join over time and it offers both broadcast catch up and VoD, targeting PCs, TV and popular mobile devices, including Apple and Android handsets and tablets.

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