Taiwanese digital media startup The News Lens launched only four years ago, but it quickly became one of the country’s most prolific news sources by leveraging social media to reach younger viewers. Today it took another big step by announcing a strategic partnership with Dawin, one of Taiwan’s top video and film production companies, that will help it reach a wider audience.
Based in Taipei, with an office in Hong Kong, The News Lens now claims 7 million monthly unique visitors and publishes four online editions: Chinese-language sites for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia and an English-language site aimed at international readers.
Its partnership with Dawin gives The News Lens access to resources like video and audio recording studios and personnel to create weekly programs and other content. As part of the agreement, The News Lens will create videos for distribution on TV channels and OTT platforms (deals haven’t been announced yet, but one obvious candidate is iQiyi, which is sometimes called “China’s Netflix” by Western media), as well as its own sites.
Co-founder and chief executive Joey Chung tells TechCrunch that The News Lens is one of the first digital media startups in the region to partner with a major video production company, which not only gives it the ability to create original programming with high production values, but also land distribution deals that will significantly boost its viewership. The News Lens has gained a reputation for appealing to viewers in their twenties and thirties, many of whom were turned off by raucous, celebrity-obsessed Taiwanese media outlets, by focusing on news analysis and using social media. Working with TV channels will allow The News Lens to reach new demographics, including older and more affluent viewers, which in turn helps increase its monetization opportunities.
The News Lens also announced that Ben Tsiang, the co-founder of Sina.com and documentary production non-profit CNEX, has joined its roster of angel investors and advisors. Tsiang’s presence gives The News Lens another tie to major media companies. Its investors include North Base Media, which was launched by former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal editor Marcus Brauchli and Media Development Loan Fund co-founder Sasa Vucinic to invest in independent media startups, Wiskey Capital, Walden International and Trinity Investment.