An employee at Xiaomi Box, the set-top box that suspended video streaming service one week after its launch, told Yicai Daily that they’d remove unauthorized content sources to meet the SARFT rules. (article in Chinese). In this case, future Xiaomi Box consumers can only, theoretically, access to video content provided by WASU who is one of the seven license-holding video-to-TV service providers. By far only 600 Xiaomi Boxes were sent to selected testers. Xiaomi promised to refund the pre-paid fees.

What’s wrong with Xiaomi is it cannot stream videos directly from online video providers, such as Sohu who has no license for providing TV with content. Xiaomi Box as a device did obtain a serial number from SARFT, but that cannot be used for the content it holds.

In digital TV business, SARFT license holders — currently there are seven — are like carriers in cellphone business. Content or service providers have to use authorized players’ as distribution channels, complying with all rules set by ministry-level authorities and license holders. They have no bargaining power that revenues depend on contracted revenue-sharing ratios. It is expected that SARFT won’t grant too many licenses, for video is a format that is harder for authorities to control — not like text that can be searched or filtered based on key words.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com