Chronicles digital of China : change of scenery in the country streaming

Following the third season of the Chronicles of digital China ! Between personal anecdotes and analysis of the facts of society, Mathieu Fouquet continues his exploration of technological practices chinese definitely foreign.


The first time I visited China, it was as a tourist, and it was unforgettable. It is not an exaggeration to say that I was immediately struck by this country. Literally : while he was in his luggage, the passenger just in front of me dropped her bag of 15 kg on the head.


Once off the plane, I continued to be struck, but more metaphorically. My senses were harassed by a million little details that I was constantly reminded that I was no longer in my Sarthe native. The humidity and heat of the atmosphere, the signs written in a language that I had never read in manuals, advertisements strange, the food, the people… The sensory overload was both heady and unsettling.


France will one day catch up with China in terms of advertising ?

A few years later, I returned to China, this time to work on it. Like the first time, I was struck, but a little less loud, and less and less over the weeks. Whatever you say of the capacity of the human brain to marvel, it is his faculty of interpretation and simplification of our environment which is the most impressive. Very quickly, my brain is seized with the wonderful and transmuted into something entirely ordinary. In short, I was at home.


I was at home, but this is not to say that I was perfectly comfortable. Living abroad, it is discovering all the advantages (and any disadvantages) of its country of origin. After six months in this new country, I would have killed for a squeegee. Or any dish made of cheese, moreover.


That one is not mistaken there : it is not the culinary gems that are missing in China. Here, a fondue can be enjoyed at.

As to my habits in technology, it is not necessary to look further than these chronicles to understand that they were radically overturned. From Alipay to WeChat through Didi, I had something to write.


Sometimes, this shift came from an unexpected direction. Some habits appear to us so natural that it is easy to forget that we have acquired. Example beast : watch movies and series. In France, it is a problem that can be solved by a simple pressure on the button on the Netflix remote. In China, the answer is a little more complicated, but less that one might imagine.


The Peppa Pig china meets the yellow vests. Despite the lack of sound, I assure you that she is fluent in the language of Mao.

In regards to Netflix, I’ve known foreigners who had managed to operate the service in China, but it is a real lottery : it is necessary to have a good connection and find a VPN service compatible. Knowing the struggle of the chinese authorities , and Netflix from VPN, as look to other solutions rather than to conduct a war lost in advance.


But what are the solutions ? The cable ? Yes, provided they receive foreign channels, or enjoy chinese films without subtitles. Download (legal or not) ? It is a solution that has the merit of being universal, not always the fastest or the least onerous. Not to mention that it requires sometimes, also, the use of a VPN.


In short, most of the time, chinese services of streaming remain the most convenient option and the fastest way to look at The Cabbage Soup in the comfort of his couch, a can of Tsingtao in hand.


Bad example : it seems impossible to find a complete version of the film on the most popular services (here, Iqiyi).

On this market, the competition is not missing : Youku, Iqiyi, Bilibili , and a host of other services are in charge of responding to the needs of a population that is increasingly culturally voracious. It is useful to note that each service offers content that clearly or subtly different. For example, while Youku is a generalist, Bilibili has tended to focus on japanese animation. A situation that vaguely recalls the fierce competition of streaming services western.


Also, while Netflix, Disney and Apple are investing millions to create original content, Youku and its competitors are no less combative, even if they are not made too far in their efforts to create a catalog robust.


The application Youku on iPad. Notice his financial model : some episodes of a series are free, the other (accompanied by a small logo, ” VIP “) require a premium subscription.

This does not prevent them from trying ! It would be a mistake to consider Youku (to cite him) as the beast chinese equivalent of YouTube. This is in effect less host amateur content and videos of cats with a cough, that to acquire the broadcast rights of movies and popular series that will motivate people to pay 15 yuan per month (less than two euros) for a subscription ” VIP “.


And as if this motivation was not sufficient, such a subscription also removes the endless advertisements that precede the videos. If you find the advertisements YouTube unbearable, wait until you have to wait a minute (!) before an episode…


Fortunately, for the cats who cough, we can always count on DouYin, alias TikTok in our green lands.

Regardless of whether you choose to Youku or any other service, it is also necessary to select a distribution medium. On this point, these are not options that are missing : if we choose not to use his computer or his phone, lots of tvs sold in China ship by default a good number of applications. No-touch Netflix button on the remote, but not far.


The home screen of a tv chinese brand TCL. Note the many categories in the bottom of the screen.

These tvs don’t step always a processor that is very fast, however, and it remains therefore interesting to use a set-top box type Apple TV to enjoy a more pleasant experience. But as the Apple TV does not exist in mainland China (the “section TV” does not even appear on the chinese website of Apple), it is necessary to once again turn to alternatives.


Xiaomi, for example.


A box Xiaomi 3S (and an iPhone 6S for scale).

Yes, I know, what a shock. But we must admit that in spite of its flaws (and its practices questionable), Xiaomi fills quite well the void left by Apple in certain categories of products (after all, Apple did bring down ever to make a rice cooker, and it is a pity).


The home screen of the box Xiaomi. And a Vegeta very angry.

In this case, this case does its job correctly, and much faster than any tv entry : we have access to many categories, as well as enough content to occupy himself for a few years.


“Animation “, ” music “, “travel”, and of course the inevitable ” cars “… Yes, we are in China.

These applications allow access to different services.

And then, if that wasn’t enough, the box also offers a real farandole of streaming applications, of what ensure they have access to every catalog imaginable. Suffice to say that it is enough to watch the last season of Peppa Pig in chinese.


And if it was a bit like that, at bottom, the meaning of life ?


You can find all the past columns on MacGeneration and in the form of a digital book for sale on Apple’s Books to 4.99 €. The book Chronicles China digital includes the first two seasons, with two chapters exclusive.

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