China TV Giant Takes On Rivals Outside the Box

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SHANGHAI—Shanghai Media Group, a state-owned entertainment company, has so much sway in China that Hollywood giants from Walt Disney Co. to DreamWorksAnimation SKG have sought it out as a partner.

Now that influence is under pressure, thanks to the growing ranks of young Chinese cable cord-cutters like Feng Boya.

Mr. Feng doesn’t watch SMG’s hit television shows, which include the Chinese versions of “America’s Got Talent” and “American Idol.” Instead, he prefers other U.S. fare such as “House of Cards,” “Game of Thrones” and Hollywood blockbusters that he watches through privately owned Chinese downloading sites and streaming services on his tablet.

“I asked my landlord to cut the cable cord in my apartment,” said Mr. Feng, a 28-year-old employee in the legal department of a Chinese state-owned company. “The rent is already high, you know.”

China, which is already the world’s biggest digital TV market by households, is undergoing the same shift in viewership to online streaming sites from traditional media broadcasters that has upended the American market.

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