The Next Big Thing

Drone maker DJI’s Youku deal to offer online sales and marketing channel

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 April, 2015, 2:20pm
UPDATED : Monday, 01 June, 2015, 12:00pm

Chinese drone maker DJI’s partnership with video streaming website Youku Tudou will give DJI a dedicated channel to market its products while offering a potential new source of revenue for Youku.

The tie-up was first announced in early April alongside a deal between DJI and Youtube, but the Youku partnership is more comprehensive.

Youku will be the only platform for DJI drone users to upload their videos in mainland China, and the dedicated DJI channel will carry new product launches, reviews and tutorials as well as the user videos.

Drones will also be sold through the site, marking a step into e-commerce for Youku. Alipay, the online payment system of internet giant Alibaba, will offer interest-free instalment payment plans to buy DJI products, subject to credit approval.

"By working with Youku Tudou to let users share their videos, we hope to further encourage their creativity and provide even more tools for them to go out and innovate from the skies," said Andy Pan, DJI's vice-president of ecosystems, at the launch.

Both Youku and Youtube allow footage to be streamed with almost no time lag when the drone is up to 1.6 km from its controller. DJI has said previously that this feature could make drones useful for media coverage of disasters or protests, or could also help in remote surveying in for example the construction and mining industries. 

Shenzhen-based DJI has been at the forefront of the consumer drone craze and has seen rapid growth in sales. As with its Youtube deal, drone users will share advertising revenue from aerial videos uploaded onto the Youku website.

“There is not a hard and fast rule as to how many views a video should get to start generating income for the creator, but generally those over a million views would start giving creators a share of the sales brought in,” said Jerry Li, senior vice-president of partnerships and ecosystems at Beijing-based Youku.

Li said Youku has recently started a service allowing viewers to buy products they see in selected programmes in an attempt to bring in a new revenue stream and reduce reliance on expensive licensed content.

However, there is still uncertainty over the regulatory environment for drones in China, since authorities there have yet to clarify whether they would allow money to be made from drone videos.

In the US last month, the Federal Aviation Administration warned a YouTube user who regularly uploads drone videos that he may have violated regulations by using them for commercial purposes without proper authorisation.

 “It isn’t something the aviation authority has clear guidance on at the moment, but as of now it is OK as long as people don’t take videos with their drones in urban Beijing and Shanghai,” Li said, referring to a ban covering the cities.