Video Hosting in China: What You Need to Know [2022 Update]

By Emily Krings

15 Min Read

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Emily Krings

Emily is a strategic content writer and story teller. She specializes in helping businesses create blog content that connects with their audience.

    Over the past ten years, the number of people accessing the internet in China has increased five-fold. As you might expect, such strong growth has led to an explosion of online video hosting in China. 

    In 2014, a staggering 433 million Chinese viewers had watched videos online. As of December 2020, however, this number had skyrocketed to 927 million viewers. With 1.4 billion residents, there is potential for this number to continue to grow. 

    Yet, China remains an out-of-reach market for many businesses that create and publish video content. Even in 2019, most video platforms cannot stream content to Chinese audiences from within the People’s Republic of China (PRC) itself.

    In this article, we’ll examine the problems of a video hosting in China. First, we’ll discuss why the Chinese market is important to businesses. Then, we’ll review some of the challenges for foreign companies seeking video hosting in China and discuss options for streaming hosting providers not blocked in China.

    This post has been updated to reflect the most accurate information about China video hosting and platforms available as of August 2022.

    Table of Contents

    • What’s the Value of Video Hosting in China?
    • The 3 Challenges to Chinese Video Hosting
    • Bypassing the Great Firewall with an ICP License
    • Video Hosting Sites Not Blocked in China
    • Using Dacast for Video Hosting in China
    • Conclusion

    What’s the Value of Video Hosting in China?

    chinese video hosting
    The growing Chinese economy greatens the need for businesses to reach viewers in China.

    China’s population is nearly 1.4 billion, and it is considered the world’s largest economy today. This booming economy has led to a massive tech sector and tremendous growth in online video. That is why there is such a huge potential with China video streaming.

    On a numerical basis, more people watch online videos in China than the entire population of the United States by a fair margin. On top of this, the audience in China is relatively young, which projects well for future growth. For example, more than half of online video viewers in China are in their teens and 20s.

    the great chinese firewall
    Despite the Great Firewall, the number of internet users in China continues to climb year over year.

    Countless non-China businesses have good reason to invest in videos for Chinese audiences. In particular, there is a massive market for OTT and entertainment. 

    For one, sports are massive in China. China streaming services allow sporting organizations to expand their reach. Educational content also presents the opportunity for a large audience in China since higher education institutions are increasingly offering their courses internationally. 

    Often, these online courses exist as a complete overseas program. You must deliver a high-quality viewing experience if you have people paying to access your content. For that, you need delivery inside of mainland China.

    Plus, there is tons of educational content outside of higher educational institutions that you can share with a Chinese audience, such as how to cook different dishes, set up a computer program, or do woodworking. You can share a wide range of educational content with a Chinese audience.

    If you’re not in the Chinese e-learning sector, you may be selling products or services, or perhaps you’re partnering with Chinese businesses. Nowadays, many companies want to deliver employee or agent training to their operations in China. We’ve also seen many companies using video to market to consumers in China.

    For these reasons, video hosting in China is essential to many businesses. However, there are several challenges in delivering video content to viewers in China. You must use a Chinese video-sharing platform to deliver video content to China.

    The 3 Challenges to Video Hosting in China

    video hosting for china
    An ICP license is essential to be able to offer video hosting services in China.

    Foreign companies face a number of challenges when streaming live video into China. The greatest challenge is the Great Firewall, which is controlled by the Chinese government’s censorship system and makes it difficult for people in China to stream unapproved content.

    Additionally, broadcasters are forced to fight against slow speeds and high bandwidth costs when streaming to China.

    Let’s look at three such challenges in a bit more detail.

    1. Great Firewall and Content Restrictions

    The Great Firewall restricts many professional online video hosting solutions from operating in China today. In essence, the Great Firewall refers to China’s internet censorship system. It blocks a large number of international websites, apps, social media, and other online resources deemed inappropriate or offensive by authorities.

    It’s important to be aware that all external video content sent to China is heavily monitored. This ensures that video content complies with China’s strict rules. For example, popular Western platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo are blocked in China because their content is user-generated. As another example, foreign users inside China are blocked from live streaming completely.

    To get around the Great Firewall and China’s rigorous content restrictions, you need to work with a video hosting service with physical infrastructure in China. This will allow you to share the content you want with your Chinese audience.

    2. Slow Speeds

    Beyond direct content blocking, the Great Firewall causes several other issues. Many broadcasters find that even when content delivery networks (CDN) stream video to China from outside the mainland, the speed and quality are low and inconsistent.

    CDNs reduce loading and buffering by caching content at the server closest to the viewer. This process ensures that viewers have videos delivered from a server near them wherever viewers are in the world. The server used to provide the content depends on what type of “points of presence” (POPs) are near the viewer.

    For a Chinese viewer, content is often streamed from as far away as Seattle. This leads to significant speed and latency problems. The longer a video travels to reach the viewer, the more the speed and viewing quality are impacted.

    The further you are from the server, the more intermediary points the request and the response have to go through to reach the viewer. No matter how fast your ISP advertises your connection speed, these issues are still present.

    Naturally, speed is essential when delivering video. If it takes a second or more to make a request and receive a response, the likelihood is that your viewers don’t have a great experience.

    To ensure that your viewers enjoy a great viewing experience, you need to cut the distance between where the video is hosted and where your viewers are. If you want to deliver content to China, that means using a hosting service located in the country, not thousands of miles away.

    3. Bandwidth Costs

    Because of technical restrictions, bandwidth in China is still costly. It can be as high as 50 times more expensive than in western countries. That means it costs your viewers more money to watch and stream your videos.

    Broadcast costs have been amortized over decades in the US but are being built rapidly from scratch in China, leading to higher user prices.

    Bypassing the Great Firewall with an ICP License

    great firewall of china
    With multiple points of presence (PoPs) across the mainland and a partnership with China-based CDN services, Dacast ensures fast delivery of online video content through the great firewall.

    Fortunately, there are methods for bypassing these three challenges. There are a few main ways to deliver your video in China, and they all involve obtaining an ICP license to access the China live streaming market. 

    An ICP license—which is short for an “Internet Content Provider” license—is a special permit granted by the Chinese government which allows websites to bypass the Great Firewall. These permits are issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

    In practice, it isn’t possible to establish a presence in China without working with a local partner to assist you in gaining the required ICP license. This can be an unpredictable and lengthy process. 

    It requires traveling to China and multiple meetings with local partners and government officials. Admittedly, this process has become smoother in recent years, but the current diplomatic tensions between the US and PRC could change that. This requires a significant investment of time and resources. 

    Video Hosting Sites Not Blocked in China

    If you’re not ready to negotiate with local officials, partner with a multi-CDN provider, and get your own ICP license, you have the option to choose an online video platform that has already done this.

    As of Jan 2022, only these three options have gained the appropriate clearance from the Chinese government. The online Chinese video platforms that have China video hosting capabilities include:

    1. Dacast: ICP License 19031887
    2. IBM Cloud Video
    3. Panopto

    For Panopto, only the Panopto Basic plan (which is the free plan) is offered worldwide, and Panopto Pro is offered in the US, CA, UK, and parts of the EU.

    Platforms that Do NOT Offer China Delivery

    Some of the top streaming platforms on the market that do not have the appropriate clearance for China video hosting include:

    1. Brightcove
    2. Muvi
    3. Vimeo
    4. Streamshark
    5. Kaltura

    Using Dacast for Video Hosting in China

    china video cdn
    Dacast is one of the top streaming services that offer China video hosting.

    As we mentioned, Dacast is on the list of very few online streaming platforms that support private video hosting in China. That alone makes it one of the best Chinese streaming services you can work with. 

    We have already been through the complicated process of gaining approval to deliver content in China, and we have an ICP license from the Chinese government. We’ve also done the work of setting up local PoPs and getting their connectivity propagated. 

    It’s important to note that not all “global” video streaming CDNs are registered and can deliver content in mainland China. Truly global CDN providers, like Dacast, can deliver content beyond the Great Firewall and anywhere in the world.

    The good news? Dacast customers can deliver the same high-quality viewing experience to their Chinese viewers as they do to their audiences in other parts of the world. Dacast can provide you the ability to offer both videos-on-demand as well as live stream content to China. 

    With access to over 60,000 servers across China, we can deliver high-quality video content even to those located away from the populous Eastern seaboard.

    Dacast can support both on-demand and live streaming content to China, so we have you covered no matter how you want to connect with your Chinese audience.

    Conclusion

    Video hosting in China can be incredibly beneficial to your business, especially if you’re trying to reach viewers within the Great Firewall. With the problems that can arise with non-China hosting, getting your video on mainland China servers is very helpful.

    We hope this article has helped familiarize you with some ways to stream to viewers within China.

    In addition to video hosting in China, the Dacast platform offers advanced features for publishers or businesses that are focused on video hosting more than live streaming. These features include AES encryption, an advanced bulk uploader with Dropbox integration, and a super-easy video management system.

    Try these features risk-free in our 14-day free trial. All you have to do is sign up today to get started. Just click the link below to get free streaming for 14 days (no credit card required).

    Finally, if you have further questions or thoughts, feel free to leave us a comment below. Are you looking for more live streaming tips, industry networking opportunities, and exclusive offers? If so, you can also join our LinkedIn group.

    Thanks for reading, and happy broadcasting!

     

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    Emily Krings

    Emily is a strategic content writer and story teller. She specializes in helping businesses create blog content that connects with their audience.

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