China Boosts Most Internet Users As Tudou Rumors Fly

China has more than any other country, the Wall Street Journal reports. The paper estimates that there are 228.5 million Internet users compared to 217.1 million in America:

BDA estimates that China’s online advertising market reached $1.3 billion in revenue in 2007, while U.S. Internet ad spending was expected to reach $21.4 billion in the same period, according to New York-based research company eMarketer Inc. Although the two numbers aren’t directly comparable, analysts agree the disparity of the ratios of user numbers to advertising dollars is vast.

Liu Bin, an analyst at BDA, says the Internet makes up only about 5% of advertising spending in China, compared with 10% in the U.S. But if China’s economy continues to grow and China’s Internet users increasingly choose the Internet over traditional forms of entertainment, China is bound to catch up.

Meanwhile, the most popular video sharing site online, Tudou went down and came back up today. While the company claimed that it was down due to a server move rumors on the Internet about government interference are flying.

also shut down briefly on March 7, starting rumors that the Chinese government is cracking down on the site. Earlier this week eight online video sites signed the “Self-Discipline Agreement for Chinese Internet Audiovisual Programming” and now 42 more have joined them – but not , Marbridge Consulting notes.

Among them, some of the better-known names include: Netmovie, Jeboo, Vodone, Sina, PPStream, Youku, Quacor, UUsee, 6Rooms (6.cn), Hupo.tv, UiTV, QQ.com, and PPLive.

Editor’s note: Tudou, which recently saw its cooperation with CCTV.com put on hold and is now awaiting possible punishment from the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT) for alleged violations of rules on banned content, is not listed among either the first 8 or current round of 42 existing/applying signatories of the Self Discipline Agreement.

Hollywood has been pressuring China to crack down on online video sites that blatantly disregard copyright violations, Business Week’s blog Eye on Asia reports. Other reasons for possible government pressure on Tudou are that some porn videos made it through the Tudou firewalls. CNN reports that China is ambivalent about cracking down on companies that are bringing in so much revenue however.

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