5 Challenges to Broadcasting and Publishing Video in China

China is developing a modern economy following an ambitious program of technological development.

Earth at night

The number of people with internet access in China has increased considerably. For organizations in the U.S. or Europe, reaching viewers is fairly straightforward, with few real restrictions on how and when to share a video.

Yet, for many businesses that publish and create video content, the Chinese market is still out of reach.

Marketers have been trying to figure out how to effectively engage with the huge Chinese market, but they face a number of challenges.

The main challenge is the tight controls and restrictions on internet in China. Internet tools such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Google search are not accessible for mainland China. Other challenges are speed and broadband width and cost.

One of the ways to overcome the challenges is to host your video content with an online video platform that delivers video globally, including in China, and publish video content from that video hosting platform.

Why does video hosting in China matter?

China has a population of well over a billion people and as of December 2020, approximately 927 million internet users in China watched online videos. The burgeoning middle class is eager to spend and e-commerce saw significant growth globally in 2020, with China making history.

Number of online video users in China from June 2018 to December 2020

Source: Statista – Number of Online Video Users in China 2020

The growth does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. More than half of the e-commerce sales in the world happen in China, which makes video hosting in China worthwhile. 

More than half of video viewers are young people in their teens and twenties. They are familiar with new technologies, have strong brand loyalty and depend heavily on their mobile phones. A mobile-first way of thinking is essential to reach this huge market of young people. 

Live streaming platforms and short-form videos are very popular with these young consumers. Regulations regarding live streaming are very stringent in China and it recently passed more legislation whereby special permission is required from the government to live stream to Chinese viewers.

What is the value of publishing videos using video hosting in China?

The Chinese economy is booming, particularly the tech sector, and there’s been an immense growth in online video viewing. The fact that most viewers are young people means there’s great potential for future growth. 

In 2020, the estimated revenue of the online video market in China was about 120 billion yuan.

China’s closed markets mean that three Chinese companies dominate the internet: Alibaba in e-commerce, Baidu in search, and Tencent in instant message and video gaming. These BAT companies control most of the digital content across industries. 

China’s internet penetration rate has reached nearly 65 percent and more than 99 percent of users make use of the internet via their mobile phones, according to the 45th China statistical report on internet development.

Consumers in China spend, on average, seven hours a day looking at their phones which is about twice as much time as Americans spend.

Short videos, live streams, ecommerce, online payments and other applications are playing an increasing role in people’s daily lives. The BAT companies have access to the kind of integrated data that allows them to create more engaging and relevant experiences for consumers. 

With the online course market set to grow by at least 20 percent annually, China is set to become one of the most promising online education markets.

Students in China often want to attend schools in countries like the U.S. Educational video content presents a huge opportunity and higher education institutions are increasingly offering international courses. A high-quality viewing experience is essential for a paying student base and this makes delivery from within mainland China a necessity.

Ensuring that an online education platform can be accessed in China offers the opportunity for millions of more students.

Video is the perfect medium for many different purposes, such as onboarding and training employees. Companies partnering with a Chinese business may want to use video hosting partner to deliver training to employees or agents in China. 

What are the main challenges with video in China?

Overcome Challenges

Most video platforms are not able to stream content to Chinese audiences from within China itself. China has one of the most restrictive media environments in the world and relies on censorship to control information online, on the news, and on social media.

The Great Firewall has been in existence since 2006 and even if video content can get through the censorship tools, it often buffers regularly or does not load at all. 

1. The Great Firewall

The greatest challenge is the Great Firewall. The Chinese government has a censorship system that makes streaming unapproved content in China impossible. Chinese authorities block many social media platforms, international websites, apps and other resources they deem offensive or inappropriate.

All external video content sent to China is monitored and must comply with strict rules. Popular Western social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook are blocked.

2. Server distance

The internet in China is fast as long as you stay in China but broadcasters often find that when content delivery networks (CDN) stream video to China from outside, the speed is low and inconsistent. 

By caching content at a server closest to a viewer, a CDN reduces buffering and ensures good quality. For Chinese viewers, videos are often streamed from far away, which causes problems with lagging and viewers don’t have a great experience.

The further away the viewer is from the server, the more intermediary points a video has to go through and the longer the response time. A CDN, therefore, requires a Chinese presence and government licenses for server placement.

Working with a China CDN with existing relationships with the authorities and knowledge of the rules is essential to understand and comply with the necessary regulations. CDNs within China typically have points of presence (PoPs) with lower latency which accelerates loading time for video and prevents buffering.

3. Bandwidth costs and speed

Bandwidth in China is still very expensive, costing much more than in Western countries. Administrative costs and network building are higher in China, which pushes up the costs. One of the tactics the government uses is bandwidth throttling in addition to keyword filtering and blocking access to certain websites. As video delivery data demands more data, it suffers when there’s a slow connection.

4. Video content that works in the West may not succeed in China

Many western companies wanting to use videos to market to Chinese people fail due to inadequate research into the market, population, demographics, culture and trends. Organizations try to make the market fit their brands rather than the other way around. 

Chinese apps, platforms and services that are very popular in China look quite different from those in the West. Doing something that appears sensible as a strategy but may not fit the culture or the market setting in China.

5. Different content strategies

Chinese brands have the advantage of seeing how consumers use technology in real-time and can shift their strategies to accommodate this. They have access to integrated data to achieve a holistic understanding of consumers and can create smarter, more contextually relevant engagement that includes shopping, reading, video-watching, news etc.

Video producers may still be using outdated strategies to try and reach Chinese consumers, while marketers in China are focusing on content-based experiences that connect with consumers. Marketers believe that socially engaging content yields better results than advertising.

How to overcome the challenges

It is possible to find ways around the controls and using VPN services allows you to evade the firewall.

A VPN encrypts your connection and doesn’t allow others to monitor your activities on the internet. There aren’t any laws in China against VPN use but it’s considered risky.

China commonly fights VPNs by technologically blocking the services rather than going after the foreigners that use them.

There are online video platforms that attempt to broadcast from Hong Kong into China. However, performance is much slower than from within mainland China because its network is separate. 

If you plan to consistently deliver video content into China, registering with the Chinese government will offer you more security. To effectively deliver video into China, video content has to comply with Chinese regulations. 

Acquire an ICP license

An ICP license (Internet Content Provider) license is a special permit the Chinese government grants to allow websites to bypass the Great Firewall. It is difficult to establish a presence in China and working with a local partner can help you to gain the ICP license, which is often a lengthy and unpredictable process.

Choose an online video platform with a presence in China

For those not ready to go through the process of negotiating with officials, partnering with CDNs and getting an ICP license, you can choose an online video platform that has already done this work.

When choosing an online video platform for this purpose, you will need to consider one that has a presence inside mainland China. Find out how many points of presence (PoPs) a vendor has in mainland China and where they are located. This is important if you want to scale your video strategy with delivery into China. The online video platform should also offer you the necessary support and security. 

Many of the top video hosting platforms in other countries do not have the appropriate clearance in China for hosting videos. Others have partnered with local players to help manage their relationships with government officials.

Cincopa: Reliable Video Hosting solution for China

If you want a reliable video hosting solution for China that can deliver a high-quality viewing experience to Chinese viewers, Cincopa is an option. This video hosting platform has a CDN that offers reliable, global content delivery. Viewers worldwide can enjoy high-quality video playback without delays or crashes.

Cincopa offers support for large multimedia hosting needs and solutions for multiple use cases, such as education, publishing, sales and marketing. Monetization support and insightful video analytics are available, as well as various video customization options.

Cincopa’s video CDN optimizes video playback for all types of devices and adjusts streaming quality in real-time to the viewer’s network capabilities, device type and screen size to optimize the viewing experience. With Cincopa, you can reinforce your competitive advantage with optimized video delivery.

Register for a free trial, upload video content, boost it with many on-video features and share it anywhere. 

With Cincopa, you can create a video strategy and workflow that works all over the world, including in China. It is backed by the reliability, security, and scalability of the Cincopa platform, so you can enjoy the growth opportunities the Chinese market can offer. You can use your video platform to upload video content, stream live events, seminars etc. and deliver them to viewers worldwide, including ones located inside mainland China. 


It’s wrong to assume that a video strategy that works in the rest of the world will work well within China too. Video hosting in China has many challenges but it can be very beneficial to your business. The main difficulties are government censorship, slow speed, and lack of bandwidth.

There is also the challenge of appealing to Chinese consumers because of cultural differences. There are ways to overcome the challenges that arise from non-China hosting.

Using the right online video hosting platform can provide a solution and enable you to deliver high-quality video to Chinese consumers.


Originally published on October 8th, 2021, updated on January 25th, 2024
The Blog

5 Challenges to Broadcasting and Publishing Video in China

by Simi time to read: 8 min