Our First Visit to China
Beijing airport is a complex of what look like huge scallop shells, betokening a vast airport.
We have two days there before moving on to our client’s location, Hunan Province, whose capital, Changsha, is three hours by air from Beijing.
We are giving three days of workshops, explaining our approach to the evaluation of content and illustrating it from a wide range of case studies of new entertainment and drama from the West.
We also give a session on business models from the West and examples of new research techniques.
Our party consists of Zak Shaikh, Head of Content, who has travelled from the US with Olivia Song acting as translator. Our client is Yike Tang, Deputy Head of Entertainment, at Show TV.
Zak has assembled his case studies into genre clusters with many subgenres. He covers and enormous number of cases. Why, for example, has Come Dine with Me been so successful? That’s one example where cultural differences do come in — “dinner parties” are a Western thing.
I present the shorter Science of Entertainment modules. These present the latest knowledge we have been able to gather on the application of neuroscience to entertainment. We believe this is a very important trend, and a very important part of our services.
We also present our past and future Research and Development plans.
Our audience is particularly interested in a new approach using Temperament analysis which we will introduce shortly. We hope to begin developing models for applying this technique this summer, working with UCLA professor, Dario Nardi.
ShowTV has the specific task of innovation: many of its most successful shows go on to Hunan Satellite TV, which is networked across China and which became famous for the big hit show known as Supergirl.
Supergirl was China’s first really successful talent show.
It proved so successful that Hunan Broadcasting became the leading provider of entertainment. Its satellite channel won huge audiences nationwide.
But Supergirl was cancelled in 2011 on the orders of the regulator. Hunan Entertainment now has to limit the number of talent shows in its primetime schedule.
However, ShowTV, our client, is a regional service, and not bound by the rules of its larger sister. It can continue to play reality entertainment in the primetime slot. That means it can carry on innovating and creating new formats. ShowTV is a real hothouse, with a very young team, keen to do new things.
The sessions are very lively. In the evening over dinner we discuss their programmes with the producers and try to suggest improvements.