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Same-time viewing a winning catch

YOUKU.COM, a Chinese YouTube-style Website, aims to sustain its growth rate this year by providing popular television shows online at the same time or even earlier than TV stations, it said yesterday in Shanghai.

The Beijing-based firm, whose revenue is expected to hit 100 million yuan (US$14.7 million) this year, is also prepared to spread videos to mobile phones based on a 3G, or third generation, network, Chief Executive Victor Koo said.

"In a slumping economy, advertisers don't cut online spending as it has been proved to be highly cost efficient (compared with expensive TV commercials)," said Koo. "They actually increased Internet advertising and that's our opportunity."

In the fourth quarter, Youku's revenue jumped 40 percent from the third quarter, despite the global financial crisis.

Youku now broadcasts about 40,000 television programs online with built-in advertisements lasting less than 1 minute in a 45-minute TV serial. Youku has more than 150 advertisers in a range of industries. Its cooperation with more than 1,000 content providers has enabled 80 percent of Chinese TV programs to be viewed online.

Youku will broadcast a military-themed TV series called "My Chief My Regiment" next month, the first time the firm will provide the online program at the same time as TV stations.

The online platform allows Youku's users, mainly aged 19 to 40, to watch the programs anytime, which is a big advantage of online video Websites. Youku will share the online advertising income with the copyright owners of the TV series, said Koo, formerly's president and chief operating officer.

In 2008, revenue in China's online video market hit 950 million yuan and is likely to touch 2.7 billion yuan in 2010, said iResearch, an Internet consultant.



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