SCMP reaches 1 million YouTube subscribers 6 months ahead of goal

By Mat Booth

South China Morning Post

Hong Kong


The South China Morning Post (SCMP) used to be a local newspaper focused on print circulation in Hong Kong. Yet, with its digital transformation starting in 2016, the Post evolved into a global news media company. We appeal to a broader China audience and have growth in our global audience by putting more focus on our digital channels, Web site, and apps, and by integrating digital video in our news reporting.

The Post achieved 1 million subscribers on our YouTube channel in March 2020 — six months earlier than expected — and most of our subscribers are outside of Hong Kong. Now, we have more than 1.45 million subscribers, 50 million monthly views, and more than 1 billion lifetime views.

The Thin Yellow Line, a mini-documentary created by the South China Morning Post, was received a Society of Publishers in Asia 2020 award.
The Thin Yellow Line, a mini-documentary created by the South China Morning Post, was received a Society of Publishers in Asia 2020 award.

How do we achieve this without throwing money around? We invested in our world-class team and equipment.

I led my team of video journalists with mentorship and support, each of them working as a “one-man band” who researches, writes, shoots, edits, etc., and is backed by video production specialists including a lead videographer, supervising producer, motion graphics expert, and copy editor. We equip our team with lightweight and digital video-friendly gear as well as a small but effective all-in-one studio to create quality content. We work closely with the rest of the newsroom and were given freedom to experiment and autonomy to make our own decisions by SCMP’s executive leadership.

We also developed consistently robust content and revamped our distribution strategy to meet audience expectations. As an English-language news publisher headquartered in Hong Kong, SCMP has a mission to lead the global conversation on China. Leveraging our geographic advantage and our expertise in reporting China-related stories, we create content that reaches a global audience.

Chinese viral videos are some of our most-watched videos and account for 40%-50% of total video traffic. We also became proficient at breaking news during the Hong Kong protests. The Thin Yellow Line, our mini-documentary about the Hong Kong protests, was awarded a Society of Publishers in Asia 2020 award. On the Front Line with Hong Kong Protesters won gold at the Asian Digital Media Awards. Combining excellence with increased frequency and volume of video content enhances audience engagement, we could see significant audience growth and loyalty.

Driving growth is not an easy task and maintaining video sustainability is more difficult. On top of creating and distributing inspiring quality content that matters to our Hong Kong and global audience, we are keen to explore monetisation options that help us to continue to grow and consolidate SCMP’s global authority among the world’s best-known, quality newspapers.

About Mat Booth

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