Bamb(u)oozled?  —  OTT Service ‘Bambu’​ to Bring Chinese Content to American Millenials for $4.99 per month!

Cinedigm to bring Chinese series, movies, and hip hop to American Millenials via their upcoming OTT service Bambu for the low-low price of only $4.99! …..insert Cici’s Pizza jingle here…..

By Ryan Carroll, Editor-at-Large

October, 2018.

Either the CEO of Cinedigm, Chris McGurk, does not understand the tastes or disposable income levels of American Millenials (also I think they are mistaking their demographics and are targeting Gen Z #stopconfusingGenZandMillenials!), or this business venture is total BS.

I’m calling BS.

Targeting an entire American generation with content that they have expressed no desire for, at a rate of $4.99 per month, does not make sense. Netflix has several Chinese series and films already streaming, but the number of content on the largest OTT in the world compared to the amount that is produced and distributed in China. Does not add up.

The article in Deadline Hollywood provides more bullet points than a genuine article on the industry and Bambu’s potential disruption, or niche, entry into it. Potentially pointing to the fact that this may be a piece of Native Advertisement.

Targeting young Americans, whether they are Millenials or Gen Z, with Chinese series and movies as a whole highlights that there is no real strategy behind the announced launch of Bambu.

On the other hand, pushing Chinese pop and hip hop music towards Gen Z could have its own potential. A potential that would be suitable for social media applications but not a $4.99 OTT subscription service. Here, let me send that price over The Snapchat.

Breaking down the piece in Deadline there are some clues to how Cinedigm may be strategically positioning themselves with Chinese content producers, in the announced formation / potential launch of Bambu.

That being a quote from Cinedigm’s CEO Chris McGurk himself;

Bambu is the 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.

Earlier this year Cinedigm partnered with a brand new “entertainment” company Starrise Media Holdings, which the year before was a textile company. This came after Cinedigm sold a majority of its equity to HK-based (which means Chinese-owned) Bison Holding Company.

A move like this, from both Bison and Starrise, are potentially a sign of capital flow out of China into foreign markets without actual desire to create a real entertainment venture.

Cinedigm appears to be making a move to develop relationships to represent more Hollywood content to Chinese streaming platforms — a form of revenue potential that I have written about before. While Starrise and Bison are either; unaware of the business they are entering into, or they are looking for a way to reallocate capital from one avenue to another, that is outside of China.

No matter what the desired goal of the OTT platform Bambu is I am not holding my breath for it, in the state that it is being presented now.

Editor’s Note
The pricing for Bambu released by Cinedigm will be two-tiered, a free ad-based option along with a $3.99 per month ad-free version  —  still too much for a launch, $1.99 would be a better price range to attract new paid subscribers  —  with a focus on Gen Z (ages 16–24) rather than Millenials. Still not the key demographic for this niche platform. Wait and see China Watchers, if this OTT service truly solidifies.

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About the Author
Born and raised in the Missouri-Ozarks Ryan studied Film Production, and East Asian Culture, at the University of Kansas where he was a UGRA recipient that led him on a seven-year long, Journey From the West, to China. Where he worked with Warner Brothers, the China Film Group Corp. and the National Bureau of Statistics of China. Before returning to the States, where he specializes in Chinese Anime & Comics, China’s Box-Office, and Chinese entertainment-tech industries. He has a dog in China, Abigail, and a dog in the Arkansas-Ozarks, King Blue, who help ease his anxiety of suffering from the “Two-Dimensional Complex” that is trying to understand the Culture Industry landscapes of the Middle Kingdom.