There Are Now Two Chinese Streaming Apps Vying For Eyeballs in America – Bambu and Smart Cinema U.S.A.
By Ryan Carroll, Editor-at-Large
BAMBU, from Cinedigm the former digital projection company turned streaming company, was supposed to have launched in Q1 of 2019. Priced at $4.99 for ad-free viewing, or $3.99 with ads, aimed at American Millenials bringing Chinese movies, series, and hip hop to American screens.
In October of 2019 it appears Bambu changed direction launching the Chinese content service on the Cinedigm owned ConTV.com, within its Live TV option.
Placing Bambu does not appear to be a soft launch, or even a re-branding of the streaming service. It appears to be a complete reshuffling of the service. Though this may be the original intent of the content service itself.
If the purpose of the streaming service was not to launch a platform for Chinese movies and series for “American Millenials and Gen Z”, was it instead to create a channel to represent more Hollywood content going into China. Since Cinedigm’s parent company is Hong Kong-based, Chinese-owed, Bison Holding Company.
Launching a streaming service anywhere is a major undertaking, especially one that does not have a large obvious user-base such as Bambu’s would have. Launching it as its own stand-alone subscription-based platform.
It makes sense to place it under the umbrella of Cinedigm’s niche fandom ConTV.com streaming service, where the Chinese content streams live as it would on linear television, and then the user can go back to ConTV’s other options of anime, comics, martial arts, sci-fi, and other niche offerings. Even though it is a far cry from what they original marketed the streaming service would be.
Jack Gao, the former Wanda / Legendary Ent. / AMC Theater executive and now Founding Partner & CEO of Smart Cinema, announced at the Chinese-American Film and TV Festival in LA this week, that they have launched the Smart Cinema U.S.A. app here in the United States. After bringing the Smart Cinema app to China over a year ago with a Five-Year plan to bridge the gap between the box-office and digital release widow in China, that we examined in two articles last year – here & here.
Jack Gao’s plan and roll-out is more focused on the potential, and feasible, market here in the United States than that of Cinedigm’s Bambu. That we pointed out in our Bamb(u)ooled? article above.
As Mr. Gao’s Smart Cinema U.S.A., which has teamed with Well Go USA, for Chinese movie releases. Would focus on the 7,361,000 Chinese diaspora in North America first, then “our Chinese friends” next, as users for the streaming app.
The Smart Cinema U.S.A. app is a per movie video on-demand service, with no subscription plan, and in China the app has made around $4MMUSD in the one-year period of time it has been available.
A year from now it will be interesting to see where Smart Cinema U.S.A., Bambu, and any other future competitor, will be in the market of the Chinese Streaming Wars here in these United States.
Stay Tuned China Watchers!
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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.