In what will surely be a common trend over the next few years to take advantage of China’s growing population of media consumers, Reuters is reporting that a Disney-led consortium is in talks to buy a portion of China’s largest in-bus media firm, Bus Online. Google is a part of the consortium — even as they are currently seeking out the NSA’s help to deal with their recent security breach in China.
According to anonymous sources, the consortium is planning to buy a portion between 30 and 40 percent of Bus Online for more than $100 million through “a purchase of old and new shares to be issued by the company in private placements.”
The sources went on to say that Disney “wants to be a strategic partner not just a financial investor” in Bus Online due to the company’s increased presence in China — like the upcoming Shanghai-based Disney theme park.
Google is aiming for a smaller stake in the deal than Disney. It’s interesting that the company is still pursuing the arrangement given their recent spat with China. This seems to be yet another example of Google pursuing a “business first” objective that they may get flack for down the line — just like their initial search censorship agreement with the Chinese government.
According to Reuters, Bus Online is China’s top in-bus digital media and advertising company with a $46.07 million 2009 revenue. It has received $80 million in funding since 2004 from “venture capital funds and banks including IDG, Yangtze Fund, China Renaissance Capital Investment and CCB International.”
The company is the exclusive in-bus media content and advertising provider for China Central Television (CCTV) and the Xinhua news agency.
We haven’t yet seen the same rise of in-bus media in the US, but it is finally beginning to pop up in domestic air travel more frequently. Upstarts like Bolt Bus and Mega Bus — both of which are also subsidiaries of larger bus companies — already offer Wi-Fi and other premium features, and would also be prime real estate for a company like Bus Online.