A look into Chinese TV shows, with Vincent Sun from Shanghai Media Group

Vincent Sun is a Senior Chinese program producer, Formats research expert, founder of iFORMATS Chinese Formats Database, Deputy director of New Media Business Unit of Shanghai Media Group (second biggest media group in China after CCTV).

For a long time engaged in the production of television documentaries, variety programs and large-scale galas, especially good at art, fashion, life & style and other fields of program creative research and development.

Vincent Sun, iFormats & Shanghai Media Group
Vincent Sun, Deputy director of New Media Business Unit of SHANGHAI MEDIA GROUP, founder of iFORMATS Chinese Formats Database

1. Can you describe Iformats.cn services. What is the final purpose of this platform?

iFORMATS is the first professional research platform in China focusing on Chinese and Asian programs with multiple services provided. Its main services are:

1. iFORMATS has the largest online database of Chinese formats. We conduct leading professional research on TV formats both inside and outside of China. The primary target of our research is programs broadcasted on Chinese TV and OTT platforms.

2. iFORMATS works on Innovation, production of TV formats while it can also serve as an agency to distribute formats for production companies and broadcasters.

3. iFORMATS provides training services for media industry insiders and students of media-related major. The topics of the training ranges from content innovation to international communication.

4. iFORMATS organizes exhibitions related to program format regularly.

5. iFORMATS provides customized professional services for partners and clients.

The final purpose of iFORMATS is to become the most leading, most professional and most influential content and service provider focusing on China’s TV and internet programs.

2. Why do you think it is important to promote the Chinese TV creativity overseas?

China is a country with profound history and splendid culture. The Chinese civilization has witnessed a lot of creations and works that topped the world during the past thousands of years. Today, China is a growing power in the international arena with huge market demand and talent reserve. In a world that is more globalized than ever, we have seen the flourish of Chinese TV programs in both production and innovation. But much more importantly, China is willing to display and share its content and innovation with the rest of the world, we are looking forward to the culture exchanges and mutual cooperations.

3. In which genre of TV show do you think China can innovate the most and why? Can you give examples?

I think China can innovate the most in culture-related and documentary programs since China has a lot to show to the world in terms of culture with unique oriental aesthetics. There is a huge contrast between China’s content and content from the West and this contrast is where the beauty lies.

But at the moment, there is also a growing trend of TV in China which is 5G-based and dominant by internet-based content production and innovation with huge entertainment interactivity. It’s a trend that is gathering momentum and China’s TV industry is prepared to meet the challenges and take the lead.

4. OTT (Over-The-Top service) being interactive in China, can it trigger innovation that is unseen anywhere else in the world?

Yes, I believe so and innovations will come faster and faster.

5. What genre do the audience like the most?

Entertainment show is favored by the audience, mostly because of the youth population in China.

6. What is the most innovative show you have watched those last months?

“Singing with Legends” produced by Dragon TV. 

This is a new intergenerational singing competition show. It has triggered a watching boom and sparked heated discussions. It is the phenomenal show of the year. In the show, iconic senior singers and popular young singers paired to form duet competitions on stage. The rating of “Singing with Legends” ranked No.1 on all weekend prime time slots . It has generated more than 1 billion discussions on internet and has been broadcasted on a number of platforms.

This show is made in the spirit of China because well-known and experienced singers help the new generation of singers to become the next legends.

7. To what extend did the coronavirus change the TV industry and OTT platforms? Do Chinese people watch more TV than before? Maybe more interactive or educational programs ?

I believe the change or impact coronavirus brought to China’s TV industry is temporary, but we do need to keep an eye on the future development.

8. What do you think about the future in the next few months concerning the TV industry trends in China?

I think in the next few months, the TV industry in China will focus more on how to work with new media sector and its products, maybe a better combination.

9. Do you think it will take time to export Chinese format overseas? What is your strategy for that?

It will take time definitely. It is the first step that is more costly, but I do believe that it will be smooth in the near future.

Our strategy is to build a prototype for Chinese Format to go overseas. It is very crucial at this stage.