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TV content distributor Union Voole completes RMB 528M funding

Rhea Liu

Union Voole claimed on Monday to have completed an RMB 528 million (USD 88 million) funding round with a valuation of RMB two billion (USD 317 million).

Investors were reported to have included: Foresea Life Insurance, electronics manufacturer, Tatwah Smartech, and Huawen Media Investment Corporation. Huawen Media is a stated-owned enterprise owned by state newspaper, People’s Daily.

Union Voole is one of the biggest television content distributors in China with an audience of over 16.2 million monthly viewers. It is partly controlled by state-owned company Southern Media Corporation.

Union Voole has said the investment will be used for producing new content, upgrading the platform, and attaining new users. Union Voole announced the establishment of a new branch of its business, Union Voole Media Development Company, as a part of its strategy.

Photo from Sootoo

Union Voole also announced it has been granted an over-the-top (OTT) license, or Internet TV license, from South New Media and the Chinese International Broadcast Network (CIBN). South New Media and CIBN are two of only seven OTT license holders in China.

OTT content distributors in China have to apply for OTT licenses before they can distribute their content to the public. Only seven state-owned media groups possess OTT licenses at present.

Other companies wanting to establish their own OTT platforms – including LeTV and Xiaomi – will need to gain authorization from at least one of the seven state license holders. Relatively recent television set-top boxes introduced by Xiaomi and LeTV, were initially declared illegal and forced to stop distribution prior to their establishing of relations with license holders.

Apple will also need to gain authorization from one of the seven state license holders before it will be able to successfully introduce its Apple TV set-top box in China.

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