在戛纳国际创意节上，杨媛草做了演讲“Look out the Chinese are coming!”，向全球听众阐述了中国文化的爆炸性趋势，比如，内容创作者如何利用视频直播来赚钱。
Rebecca Yang’s Cannes presentation “Look out the Chinese are coming!” explained to an international audience how exploding cultural trends in China, such as live streaming, are being exploited and monetized by content creators.
Talking with her afterwards, she seems uncomfortable with it all, explaining, “I can’t say I am pro this culture, but I want to understand it.” Nonetheless, she is approaching the lucrative new medium with cold opportunism, “With the technology, it is inevitable. We as content providers need to think how it can be taken to our advantage, to create something a lot more valuable and entertaining.”
IPCN近期打造的节目名字听起来有点怪异，叫《耐撕实习生》（Tear Resistant Interns），这是“中国第一直播职场纪实剧”，他们想要借此探寻视频直播的潜力。IPCN上海办公室架起了24小时摄像机，按照剧本开演，同时又贯穿着真实的日常活动，打造出既真实又怪异的办公环境，让人有一种错觉。就如同《Big Brother》这样的节目一样，它是一种将内容和脱离剧本真人秀结合的新形式。
IPCN’s recent series (awkwardly titled in English) Tear Resistant Interns sought to leverage streaming through “the first live streamed drama in China”. 24-hour cameras positioned around the IPCN office in Shanghai captured scripted action interspersed with genuine everyday activity to create the illusion of a real, if bizarre, workplace. It’s a new type of content merging non-scripted reality shows like Big Brother with scripted dramas filmed live.
“We’ve been manipulating a lot of what’s happening in real life. It is a real office, but the things happening in there are a little bit weird,” explains Yang. Every week the cast is set a business brief, a story vehicle to bring out the rivalry between the two lead female characters, the department boss and the mistress of the investor who is helping to fund the department.
直播的本质可以直截了当地进行解释。视频直播是社交媒体发展历程中的最新阶段，在中国的社交网络中，男性观众最有可能花钱买虚拟礼物，送给视频中的主角 – 最有可能是美女或者打游戏的人，观众可以指示视频中的人物要做什么，或者就是单纯地表达对直播的热情。现在起码有300个视频直播app和网站，同一时刻有多达60000人录制直播，在不超出监管部门的规定的前提下，有各种各样的直播超乎你的想象。而在这种情况下，直播造就了富有的新一代大咖和网络红人。
Live streaming is the latest evolutionary step in social media, a vast network whereby a viewer, usually a male, on one side of China can donate money via e-gifts to get a streamer elsewhere, most likely a pretty young girl or a gamer, to perform his instructions or simply to express enthusiasm for the broadcast. There are at least 300 apps and websites on which up to 60,000 people are streaming themselves at any one time, doing just about anything within the realms of censorship boundaries. In the process, a wave of wealthy opinion leaders and online celebrities is being created.
Explaining why the phenomenon has gripped the country quite so aggressively is more complex. “I can’t understand it”, says Yang, “I can’t tell you the psychological or anthropological way of understanding it”.
She theorises that it is down to economic concerns, “people’s lives becoming more pressurised, the gap between the rich and the poor getting bigger,” combined with a deep feeling of boredom and loneliness. Near ubiquitous smartphone and internet access means “there is a way you can share and bond with people with similar feelings.”
The IPCN team spent months in research, seeking to understand the habits of viewers, figuring out why anyone would choose to watch people working in an office. “[Viewers] tend not to exceed longer than an hour, so how do we keep them? How do we make sure that people inside and outside of the live streaming rooms keep following the storylines? Do they even care about the storylines?” says Yang.
《耐撕实习生》吸引了六个不同品牌的参与 – 包括智能电视、化妆品、服装、甜品、鸡尾酒、酱油。尽管这是一种从未尝试过的全新概念，但是看到各个品牌表现出来强烈的支持，杨媛草还是很吃惊也很欣慰，“各个品牌都想着怎么样从这种立体的角度触及观众，这让我们很有信心，直播中直接植入广告要比最后直接写上某某赞助有效多了”。
Six diverse brands, variously making smart TVs, cosmetics, clothing, desserts, cocktails and soy sauce, participated in Tear Resistant Interns. Yang was surprised but reassured by the level of support for an untried concept, “it gave us confidence in terms of how [brands] were thinking about approaching their audience so vertically, how live streaming penetrates much better than just X sponsors X, which has no transfer rate whatsoever”.
《耐撕实习生》让原本就熠熠生辉的IPCN内容创作更加丰富。2007年公司成立时，杨媛草跟前ITV CEO Mick Desmond两个人一起定义了公司的理念，“集购物媒体娱乐授权的一站式公司”，引进、投资、创作IP，在中国大陆电视或网络上进行播放，通过播放赞助和支持社交媒体应用带来收益。
Each brand was built into the storylines with an extended social media campaign running in parallel, driving traffic to e-commerce links or the brands’ off-line sales promotion events. The audience was able to easily make impulse purchases within the show and encouraged to donate virtual gifts as and when the mood took them.
Tear Resistant Interns is another feather in IPCN’s distinguished content cap. Yang defines the company she co-founded in 2007 with a former ITV CEO as a “one stop shop media entertainment rights company” that imports, invests in or originates IPs and broadcasts them on TV or online in Mainland China, generating revenue through broadcast sponsorship and supporting social media applications.
“We are the masterminds, we do everything”, explains Yang, “finding investors and sponsors, production, casting, making government relationships, ensuring the show is primetime, then creating a brand internationally that will travel back to the Chinese government, so that productions are rewarded.”
The company has licensed and executed more than 35 properties, including mega-hits China’s Got Talent, The Voice Of China and Supernanny, and is currently preparing to launch the official Chinese version of Shark Tank along with a separate incubator company to support the entrepreneurs featured in the show.
中国一向都被人认为是模仿强国，但是IPCN却以真实性著称，专注节目授权，而不是抄袭别人。杨媛草解释说，真实体现原来节目的感觉和制作，是打造成功节目的关键。“节目形式之所以很成功，能受到全世界各地人们的欢迎，是有原因的。这些节目打造了自己的品牌，商业品牌融入IP品牌中 – 应该是一个良性循环……我们是第一家打造这种模式的公司，而且我们会一直保持下去。”
In a country notorious for imitation, IPCN has earned a reputation for authenticity, licensing rather than ripping off established shows. Yang explains that truly harnessing the look, feel and production know-how of the original is crucial for success, “There is a reason why these formats are successful and travel around the world. They are brands and commercial brands buy into IP brands – it should be a healthy circle. We are the first company that started this and we’ll continue to do that.”
Tear Resistant Interns debuted on June 6th, earning over one million RMB in audience donations in its first week. The show eventually drew in over 100 million viewers throughout its run, peaking at 1.7 million simultaneous viewers on one day, attracting extensive media coverage and millions of comments on Weibo.
Speaking by email this week, Yang said, “overall it was a success and a great attempt in such a new genre and technology.” IPCN plans to keep exploiting the opportunity with a second season currently in the works. Much like the properties the company has pioneered in the past, expect the show to inspire a wave of imitators.