For SimulTV, Chinatown parade a chance to impress potential viewers

Updated: 2014-02-07 13:23

By Jack Freifelder in New York (China Daily USA)

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 For SimulTV, Chinatown parade a chance to impress potential viewers

Steven Turner, CEO of SimulTV (center, waving in red) stands with his daughter Saya (right, white coat) on Feb 2 during the 15th Annual NYC Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade. The event, which took place right in the heart of Chinatown, brought together several thousand spectators for a celebration of Chinese New Year. Provided by Love Pr Group

It was too good to pass up.

SimulTV's chance to take part in the 15th annual New York City Chinatown Lunar New Year parade and festival was "a prime opportunity for us to bring the very best original American programming to China and vice versa," founder and CEO Steven Turner told China Daily on Thursday.

The annual Lunar New Year celebration was organized by Better Chinatown USA, a volunteer-based organization dedicated to improving New York's Chinatown. It included traditional lion and dragon dances, floats, ice sculptures, marching bands and cultural performances.

Turner began designing SimulTV in 2004 to create the first platform that allows viewers around the world to interact while watching television, with real-time video chatting and social-media channels imbedded on one screen.

"Sharing an experience" and "reconnecting family and friends" over great distances are the main concepts behind SimulTV, Turner said.

"The social media bridges that gap even more," he said. "It gives you so much power as a consumer, especially in terms of reaching out and sharing that experience."

SimulTV subscribers can invite friends to join their network, set up viewing circles to watch the same program, and communicate in real time through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as they watch together.

SimulTV allows users to "multitask in a fully integrated system," which Turner said "has never been done before".

After a couple of soft launches in 2013 to get feedback, a new and improved SimulTV relaunched on Jan 1, timed accordingly with the introduction of a new Chinese channel - Huace .

Huace's content will join a SimulTV program lineup that includes sports, music, movies, fashion events and television shows from around the world.

Based in Hangzhou in China's eastern Zhejiang province, Huace is considered one of China's largest and most influential private media groups dedicated to the production and distribution of Chinese films and television dramas.

The January launch was just stage one for SimulTV. Turner already knows what the next step will be: a focus on educational programming.

"We're very proud of our kids channels and family programming," Turner said. "We've created three new kids channels by utilizing content from our partners. For children in China who want to learn English, these channels are ideal for them."

However, SimulTV is not the only entertainment provider looking to key in on the youth demographic in China.

A syndication deal between Viacom Inc - the entertainment conglomerate that includes Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central - and Chinese online media and mobile services leader went public at the end of December.

As part of the syndication agreement, Sohu Video will offer more than 200 hours of Nickelodeon programming through an online video-on-demand service to an audience of close to 400 million in China. Many popular children's shows will be dubbed into Mandarin and made available at no charge in China for the next 12 months, according to a posting on Viacom's website.

Nickelodeon, now in its 15th year in Asia, is one of Viacom's most recognized brands in China.

Turner said the "most beneficial part of the experience" in New York was the chance to get direct, face-to-face feedback from spectators.

"It was a tremendous experience to have the opportunity to meet so many individuals in one location at one time," Turner said. "Getting that feedback is key to our business and how we're going to evolve. I brought it to this point, but now I'm going to let the users run with it to make sure we meet their demands."

(China Daily USA 02/07/2014 page18)