Business / Industries

Enjoy entertainment for free, while you can

By Bai Ping (China Daily) Updated: 2015-06-25 09:01

A question for all TV or film buffs: Which streaming websites are your favorites?

There are now quite a number of video sites that vie with each other for viewers, offering us the chance to watch their shows at any time, and anywhere.

For connoisseurs of hot TV dramas, video streaming is probably the best thing that has happened in years, because it allows them to binge on Mad Men or House of Cards, or any other shows with commercial breaks slightly longer than one minute between episodes-a welcome break for many to stand up, stretch their legs or just rest their eyes for a while.

For those into film, the choice is also varied, with sites charging around 4 to 5 yuan (65 to 81 cents) per title for new releases. Viewers who don't want to pay can check out hundreds of old films at no cost. And browsing to find a film you actually want to watch, while not easy, is also possible.

I hesitate to mention the names of my favorite video sites, but I do like a couple of Chinese providers who make it easy for me to find a good, free film from their archives, while keeping me abreast of popular TV shows.

Most importantly, they entertain me on the move.

Over the past month I have traveled regularly by high-speed train and I've managed to consume the final season of Mad Men, and the first season of the Amazon series Transparent.

It's a delight to be spared advertising when you watch downloads, making the experience all-the-more intense, allowing even long rides to fly by as you lose yourself in storylines.

Around me, I saw that others too were watching shows, on laptops like me and portable media devices like smartphones and tablets.

I was not sure how many were fellow non-payers, but I was confident I was not alone.

Surveys have shown that fewer than 30 percent of Chinese streaming viewers, who now total hundreds of millions, are willing to pay for shows on their device, with most preferring entertainment that costs nothing as they are supported by advertising.

I often wonder why we are happy to down several beers at 5 yuan each on a train ride, while scrimping on relatively new films for the same money.

It could have something to do with the modern Chinese psyche that information on the Internet should be free. Several first-generation Chinese Internet sites have achieved a meteoric rise by lifting traditional media content at dirt cheap prices or even for free.

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