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TheGrill 2016 Preview: Why Social Media Is Vital To China’s Movie Ticket Sales

TheWrap spoke to Luke Xiang of WePiao, one of the largest online movie ticketing services in China. He”ll be appearing next week at TheGrill conference at the Montage Hotel

Luke Xiang is the Vice President of Beijing WeYing Technology Ltd, a Chinese company that makes WePiao, one of the largest online movie ticketing services in the country. He will be appearing next week at TheGrill conference in Beverly Hills, talking place Sept 26 and 27.

TheWrap recently spoke to Xiang about the sea change on online movie ticketing: 

WePiao and Vista Group, a software developer for the global movie industry,  recently announced a joint venture in China to expand their interests in the movie ticketing business. By way of its partnership with Tencent, the largest internet company in Asia, WePiao offers customers discounted ticketing, information, merchandise, and concessions through Tencent’s social apps, WeChat and QQ.

“The Chinese movie distribution and exhibition industry is very fragmented,” Xiang told TheWrap. “On the other hand, WeChat and QQ play a very important role for people making decisions about entertainment.”

WeChat and QQ are both immensely popular: they boast 762 million and 877 million users, respectively. In a moviegoing market where online purchasing this year soared to 80% of all ticket buying, compared with just 25% as recently as 2013, supplying online and mobile ticketing services to these millions of users is an attractive proposition. WePiao users are able to pick seats and use Tencent’s mobile payment service without ever having to leave their preferred social media app.
“Chinese audiences demand high quality entertainment content and they want to have their demands met with a superior user experience.” In many cases, the experience that users are most comfortable with is that of their preferred social network, analogous to American moviegoers making all of their ticket purchases through networks like Twitter and Facebook.

What makes these social networks such valuable portals for movie buying is the same thing that makes them attractive for advertisers: their high user traffic. WePiao’s relationship with Tencent’s Wechat and QQ makes the service more convenient than many competitors, simply by virtue of its placement within these apps. “They have technology and innovation, they have user-end traffic, and they have increasing penetration and impact on a consumer’s life. Starting to meet users’ needs with superior value, these companies are extending service to businesses and integrating the value chain with big data. They keep adding value to the industry.”

Over the past five years, Xiang has seen firsthand the positive effect that social networks can have on movie ticketing. “WePiao is a good example, growing to be the top online ticketing platform in China in just 2.5 years,” said Xiang. “The service expansion from ticketing to the pre-ordering of concessions is happening on WePaio with very promising results.”

When asked whether the North American film market will follow in China’s footsteps, Xiang said it might be too early to tell.”Online ticketing will become more popular and practical, high coverage of social networks, and more studios, distributors, and exhibitors able to leverage data from these social networks to market and promote movies,” said Xiang. “Unsure whether and when the US will reach China’s online ticketing level, but this is the trend.”

About TheGrill:
TheGrill is the leading, annual conversation about the convergence between Entertainment, Media and Technology, bringing newsmakers together to debate the challenges and opportunities of the digital age. This year features a special presentation of rock photography moderated by Oscar-winning filmmaker Cameron Crowe.

Get your tickets now to see this fascinating keynote conversation along with top thought leaders around convergence in the entertainment and media industry.