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Foreign TV Fever


  Text by Gao Xin

  “It can be embarrassing if youdon’t know about AmericanTV when chatting withfriends nowadays,” remarksXue Mei, who first became interested inAmerican TV during college and continuedwatching after he began working inBeijing. “It’s a good way to learn Englishin the first place,” he adds. Many fanswould agree.

  Today, more and more Chinese youngpeople are showing great interest in foreignTV, particularly in American and Britishshows. “Each show is so perfectly constructedthat we’re eager to see the latestepisode online,” declares one viewer.

  Fading of Pirates

  The first episode of season three ofSherlock aired on BBC’s Channel 1 at 9p.m., January 1, 2014, London time, whichwas 5 a.m. on January 2 in Beijing.

  Only two hours later, China becamethe second country in the world to seeSherlock, Season 3. Within two earlymorninghours after the broadcast, thevideo on one Chinese website was viewed190,000 times. Twelve hours later, its viewcount had soared to 3.75 million, a clickrate of over 1,000 per second.

  “The people who first watched foreignTV in the early 1980s, such as Garrison’sGorillas, which was made in the 1960s,couldn’t have imagined seeing British TVearlier than American viewers,” commentedPeople’s Daily.

  Unprecedentedly, BBC even providedofficial Chinese subtitles. BBC had neverbefore authorized any simultaneous broadcastin a foreign country.

  Along with China’s massive audience,copyright protection is another reason behindBBC’s move. The regulation of copyrightsfor foreign TV in recent years haschanged the landscape of Chinese viewing.

  In the early days of online TV, choiceswere limited, so a generation was stuckwith juggernauts such as Friends and Sexand the City. Like many peers, Liu Fang,who is working on a master’s degree, wasintroduced to American TV by Friends.“It was love at first sight when I first discoveredFriends in English class,” recallsLiu. “I then hunted for other Americanshows online, downloaded almost everyepisode of entire seasons, and saved myfavorite episodes on DVD or externalhard drives.”

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