The partnership between PressReader and CIBTC has been several years in the making. How long did it take to secure this deal and can you elaborate about obstacles you needed to overcome?
It took about three years to secure the deal. During that time we were involved in constant negotiations largely necessitated by everything that is happening in China domestically. There is a sensitivity to anything that involves publishers, press and the distribution of media, whether that be domestic or international. Everything has to go through levels of agencies, departments and ministries before you can reach a final signoff. The biggest obstacle for us was to identify who we needed to work with. We knew it was important to work with the right people who have the authority to strike a deal like this, but it was not always obvious who these people were.
But you found the right people eventually…
Yes, we did. CIBTC and CIPG were the right people to work with, being the licensors of the content we wanted. They have the relationships and the rights to license roughly 8,500 Chinese publications. And it’s a very good mix of newspapers and magazines that they control. While their mission is to license the content for outside of China distribution we can help to take Chinese media to the rest of the world. This fits nicely with the current Chinese government’s mission to make the Chinese media more open to the world, which was not necessarily the case in the past.
How big a deal is this for PressReader? Can you share some facts and figures?
It’s a massive deal. The Chinese have been travelling more and more in recent years. We estimate about 100 million Chinese citizens travel annually. This raises the attractiveness of the product from the perspective of PressReader because we are now targeting that audience. Our current audience reach is about 300 million, so for us it means we make the product even more relevant within the existing markets, as well as opening it up to a new market. Secondly, we know about 50 million Chinese work and live outside of China. These expats remain culturally in touch with what is happening in their homeland. For them, having access to all this content is really important. All of this increases the attractiveness of PressReader.
It will obviously not be possible to put all of this new content online overnight. Do you have a timeline for when and how this large body of content will be made available?
We are looking at putting between 500 and 1,000 publications online before the end of this year. As I said, our overall target is about 8,500. Initially we will do targeted launches of key titles. Luckily we have been testing our systems before the announcement was made to be sure that the systems are compatible. So we can start rolling these titles out in a fairly quick fashion.
Can you talk us through the technicalities for titles to be on PressReader and how will monetisation for all the relevant parties be achieved?
It does not cost the publishers anything to be part of PressReader. We open the world of publishing to them through our sponsored-access partners in airlines, libraries, cruise ships, hotels and everything in-between. Every time the end user interacts with the content of a specific publication that publisher is paid by us. This obviously opens up other opportunities in terms of advertising, but the key model is one of distribution. It is a profitable exercise for every publisher that joins the platform.
Your instant translation feature on PressReader has the ability to make some of this content available to non-Mandarin speakers. How effective is this feature and do you see any significance in this?
This is one of the more exciting things for us. Non-Chinese people will now be able to get an insider’s view of all things Chinese and enable them to form their own opinions. The instant translation feature we have available on PressReader focusses on key languages where we can provide quality translations. Chinese is one of them. As part of the processing of the publications that we are bringing on board we are making that feature available on some of them. It is not available on all of the titles simply because some of the source files doe not have that capability. But many key titles do. So PressReader users will be able to have Chinese content instantly translated into languages such as English and French and instantly understand what is being said.