Sina Offers Web TV Service to Win China Social Networkers

Sina Corp. (SINA), operator of the Twitter- like Weibo site in China, plans to start a new Internet television service, stepping up efforts to add multimedia content to win social networking users.

Sina will offer the “social television” service with BesTV New Media Co. (600637), according to details posted on Weibo.com. Mao Taotao, a public relations manager at Sina in Beijing, confirmed the contents of the site. The companies will unveil the new service at an event in Shanghai today that will be attended by executives including Charles Chao, Sina’s chief executive officer.

Chao is expanding the range of services for users of Weibo, which has signed up more than 300 million accounts, as Sina faces competition from rivals led by Tencent Holdings Ltd. (700) Sina seeks to maintain the appeal of China’s most-popular microblogging site, as it aims to boost advertising sales.

The new service will help “retain the users Sina has for its Weibo platform and is positive,” David Riedel, president of Riedel Research Group Inc., said by phone in New York. “Sina’s management team has proven itself able to make good strategic moves in the past, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.”

Sina, based in Shanghai, rose 4 percent to $49.92 at the close of trading in New York yesterday, the biggest gain since May 29. The stock has lost 4 percent this year, underperforming the Hong Kong-traded shares of Tencent, which have gained 41 percent.

Weibo Content

The new service will help Sina attract other partners in the television industry and application developers to offer content on Weibo, the company said on Weibo.com.

Sina Weibo is China’s most-popular microblogging service by activity, generating four times the number of page views on average from each user, compared to Tencent’s, according to a April 20 report by Morgan Stanley.

Last month, Sina reached an agreement with Zynga Inc. (ZNGA) to offer the San Francisco-based company’s “Draw Something” game in China. BesTV New Media, a Shanghai-based provider of video services, is a unit of state-owned Shanghai Media Group.

Still, the Chinese government, which restricts access to foreign social networking services including those of Facebook Inc. (FB), is increasing curbs of online video content.

The official Xinhua News Agency said on July 9 that the government had called on online-video websites to examine videos before making them available for viewing, and said that the nation is planning an anti-pornography campaign focused on videos, books, magazines and online content.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Lee in Hong Kong at wlee37@bloomberg.net; Belinda Cao in New York at lcao4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net

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