The new OTT service, to be called Bambu, will feature contemporary Chinese films, television shows and music curated for American millennial viewers. Cinedigm already has reached deals with state-run broadcaster Central China Television and with Shanghai Media Group to bring hundreds of hours of first-run shows to the service.
“We’re going to approach the channel … as a huge beta test; to try out different kinds of content and see how the audience responds.” McGurk said at a meeting of the Digital Entertainment Group. “We’ll constantly go through, refreshing the channel, based on the data about what works and what doesn’t work.”
McGurk discussed creative collaborations in China with former Fox Studios Chairman Bill Mechanic.
The Cinedigm executive said he opportunity in showcasing Chinese content that’s virtually unknown to U.S. viewers, and exposing twenty-something tastemakers to new TV shows or hip hop artists that they could introduce to their friends.
Equally important, McGurk said, is providing real-world feedback to Chinese producers, who are struggling to figure out what movies and TV shows will appeal to audiences in U.S. and Europe.The last two break-out hits were Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero — two films from the early 2000s.
“The single most important thing we can do to provide that critical feedback to the Chinese production community,” McGurk said.
Cinedigm already operates nine OTT channels, including Docurama and CONtv, which covers Comic Con gatherings around the country. The Bambu service is expected to cost $4.99 a month, and would be available via major streaming devices, such as the Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, as well as through distribution deals with Comcast, Sling and YouTube TV.
Bambu is first phase of what McGurk describes as a bilateral flow of content between the U.S. and China. Cinedigm hopes to bring U.S. content into the Chinese market via a streaming service, leveraging its relationships with the Chinese government and key partners such Starrise Media Holdings.