In the digital age, more and more people spend their time reading on mobile devices. And people now watch more television dramas on video websites. The conventional picture has been broken by cultural consumption. The modernization of the digital industry has made cultural norms further plentiful and accessible, and has developed in a variety of fields.
Digital cultural consumption goes mainstream
Recently, Asian viewers have had their eyes on the South Korean drama “Man from the Stars.” According to statistics, the show has hit record highs since it first aired. Its popularity has shown the power behind what it means to be timely and selective.
With the development of the digital industry, the promoting of mobile termination and websites brings fresh ideas for cultural consumption. According to figures from the CNNIC and published in Statistics Reports of the Development Internet China States, in November, 2013, about 6.18 million people in China has Internet access, and has about a 45.8% Internet penetration rate. Among them, Internet users on mobile phones has already reached 5 million. And people who surf the web on mobile phones is at about 81%.
The director of the Economic Research Institute of Central University of Finance and Economics Wei Pengju said, “The development of digital culture can boost the convenience and availability of cultural products. Information and service is exactly the foundation and precondition of cultural consumption.”
Besides, digitization also increases the participation of culture. Through the Internet, everyone can get involved in any popular discussions. The innovation of digital products such as E-bank, Alipay, and making payments through Wechat, provide easier options for consumers. The latest payment reform modes have had a stimulating impact.
“As for me, for the next five or six years, the digital cultural industry will occupy nearly 70% of the output of the Chinese cultural industry.”
Chen Shaofeng, the Deputy Director of the Institute for Cultural Industries at Beijing University, says digital culture is the mainstream trend of the culture industry and cultural consumption.
“Over time, our mode of living is becoming symbiotic with digital technology, especially those teenagers who have become the mainstream consumer of the culture industry. And prime entertainment relates to digital technology. That will inevitably promote the transformation to digital,” he said.
The giant’s growing pains
On the subway, many types of mobile readers said that compared with the traditional P-book, it’s more convenient to read on mobile phones. Data shows that in 2003, songs on China Mobile Wireless Music grew from 1,700 to 2,800 thousand with more than 150 million music downloads per month by average. Now, the market scale of online games approached 90 billion, growing by 33% year on year. And net-literature approached 4.63 billion, an increase of 66.7%.
All of the exuberance is within the digital cultural market of consumption. However, in the age of 4G technology, the deep envelopment of the mobile Internet and the rise of innovative payment methods, digital culture will continue to expand its own market of cultural consumption. It is predicted that the scale of online games is expected to exceed RMB100 billion and reach 115 billion yuan by the end of 2014. After three years, it may exceed 200 billion. In 2015, the overall market of net literature will exceed 7 billion.
Bai Guoqing, director of the School of Art and Technology in China, said the profits of the online gaming industry and online videos can be used as an example to explain that even digital cultural consumption has created its own big following, yet it still needs to improve its profitability. He also told China Daily that, “Taking online games as an example, most of the profit comes from the few premium users who are supported by numerous free users. What’s more, the main profitability of online video is not the advertising revenue but the premium users.”
Why premium users are less? Zhang Aiai, one Internet user, hit the mark when he said, “When the Subscription Video on Demand is provided by video websites, we can already download the free advanced one which is not very clear. If you really want to watch a movie, you can’t wait to go to a cinema. You can enjoy the movie free charge.”
Wei Pengju considers that, due to the popularization of the Internet and the fast dissemination of information, it’s easy to produce a way to “ride for free.” He said, “It’s hard to create a kind of protection for intellectual property. In addition, the development of digital culture in our country is still young and is in the process of transitioning from the traditional function to a more modern way, which has yet to become a profitable form of business.”
Wei also said there are some issues between the business model and service content. “In light of the content, the division of cultural consumption is over-serious. Resource integration is necessary, but the status quo of digitization in our country has not formed a chain, its relevant content has scattered all businesses. Publishers publishing, musicians making music, a movie is a movie, and because there is no massive content, it’s hard to be accepted.”
The business logic behind the multilateral economic system
There is no doubt the market of cultural consumption is a good prospect, but is there way to get over the growing pains? How will we be able to hold up the banner of cultural consumption? “Personally, I’m looking forward to the copyright law amendment. The right of renewal of authorship may play a role in the copyright, said Wei Pengju who emphasized the perspective of authorship, He added, “There’s no creation on products, not to mention consumption. So it really needs to protect the spirit of authorship.”
How should we transform the structure of business of digital cultural consumption? Chen Shaofeng, the Deputy Director at the Institute for Cultural Industries at Beijing University, thought it should be distinguished from the traditional structure fundamentally. He said it is a kind of mode of platform economics, and benefits from the business logic on a multilateral economic system in the way of comprehensive income, instead of the traditional way of: “I give you money, you give me product.”
Chen said, “Subscription Video on Demand, Share per Click, Free trial, pericardium of member, take complimentary online consumption and combine it with traditional industries and that will create a synthetic value of copyright.” He also added the system needs to have a pluralistic thinking mode to manage the digital cultural industry, and to create business value through an industry value chain.
On the other hand, the consumer is the pivot point of consumption. Therefore, the starting point of a business decision should always take the view of the customer. “We’ve conducted data research, and the results display there is a positive correlation between expense and time. It means the longer the netizen surfs, the higher their consumption expense. No matter if its online games, or movies or net literature, heavy users always want more and pay more,” he said.
Chen feel that from this point, for those businesses related with digital cultural consumption, the important prerequisites of transforming attraction into practical value is to enhance the viscosity of the consumer.