China video-sharing company Bilibili Inc. and BBC Studios say they have agreed a multiyear agreement - taking their already existing partnership to a new level.
Nicknamed B Site in China, Bilibili is one of the earliest domestic platforms having its signature "bullet curtain" - an overlay which allows the community of users to submit, view and add commentary on the screen during the viewership.
It was founded as a platform for watching Japan anime while viewers interact with the anime community. As Bilibili expanded it still focuses on communities such as pop-culture enthusiasts in various fields - like music, movie, fashion and entrainment lifestyle.
Its stock price increased by 1.8% Monday following the announcement and was trading at $44.00 per share at the time of reporting, with a $1.535 billion market valuation.
The agreement includes co-producing documentaries and exclusively sharing documentaries on each other's platforms.
It will bring BBC Studio's landmark documentary series -The Green Planet and The Mating Game - to Chinese audiences on Bilibili. Meanwhile, Bilibili will become a coproduction partner for this kind of fact-based content.
Additionally, BBC's new series inspired by the Discworld novels, written by Terry Pratchett, will also be streamed in China exclusively through BiliBili, according to a China Daily report.
Odyssey Into the Future, a science series featuring Chinese author Liu Cixin, is reportedly under the two platforms' joint coproduction. Netflix is undertaking the adaptation of Liu's previous novel work, Three Body Problem, as an original series.
The two companies said their plan is to increasingly commission new content and to jointly develop BBC Studios and Bilibili IP for the Chinese market.
Several documentary programs about Chinese culture are currently in preparation for coproduction by BBC Studios and Bilibili, REALSCREEN reported.
The collaboration potentially may include an animation project, according to a Variety report.
Grasping GenZ and Millennials
This more advanced strategic partnership with Bilibili is a significant breakthrough, said Jon Penn, EVP, BBC Studios Asia Pacific, as it will help BBC to "further explore the potential of China's content industry."
Targeted at GenZ audiences, in the first quarter of 2020, documentary viewership on Bilibili doubled on year.
Bilibili chief operating officer Li Ni said it has more than 83 million active users viewing documentary content on its site. Over 3,000 documentaries are broadcast on the platform. Bilibili has produced over one hundred of them.
As of September 2020, the 43 documentaries produced by Bilibili have been viewed for over 50 million times.
Its most recent documentary series - And Yet The Books - has received 6.529 million viewers and is rated 9.2 score on Douban, the Chinese version of Rotten Tomatoes.
Themed on books and readership amid an era of fragmented communities, this 30-min long, five-episode documentary series was shortlisted as the Magnolia Award for Best Documentary in this year's Shanghai TV festival as well as winning the best documentary award last Saturday at the 30th China TV Golden Eagle Award.
Bilibili claimed to have so far established "stable cooperation" with multiple documentary channels across the world - which includes CCTV, National Geographic, Discovery and NHK.
This June, Bilibili bought up to 85 titles and nearly 400 hours of National Geographic documentary series from the documentary supply Buena Vista International, according to Variety.
The partnership with Discovery includes 145 documentaries and 200 hours of exclusive content, produced by Discovery, and was broadcast on its site until the end of 2018, according to the company's website.
Sony invested $400 million in cash this April to secure a 4.89% stake in Bilibili. It's a move seen to promote the two companies' collaboration on anime and mobile games. As part of the strategic partnership, Bilibili can provide its users copyrighted music videos from the label, which has artists such as Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Bob Dylan, Oasis and Britney Spears, KrAsia reported.
Bilibili reportedly has backing from both Tencent and Alibaba with 13.3% and 7.2% stakes, respectively.