Street Dance of China Season 5 is out now, but fans aren’t happy with the Youku International App

I became a fan of Street Dance of China (or SDC) when the third season was only just airing in 2020. Around that time I had developed a minor obsession with a Chinese drama called The Untamed (on Netflix!) and began following the activities of some of the cast, including celebrity/singer/dancer/actor/model/motorcycle racer Wang Yibo, who was a new team captain on SDC’s third season.

SDC is conveniently available on Youku’s YouTube channel. I started watching out of curiosity, but soon got hooked. Not only was there a visual feast of dance performances, but also fun hi-jinks and an obvious camaraderie between the team members and captains. Even though it was technically a competition, it was also full of heartwarming moments, and it was only too easy to get invested in rooting for your favorite dancers. It was the height of the first pandemic lock down, and I was all too ready to have something positive to root for.

By the time SDC’s fourth season came out, I was hooked. Season 3 had reached a new level of success internationally, so they really hyped up Season 4 as an international event, inviting dancers from all over the world to come experience China’s street dance, with contestants coming from countries such as France, Japan, and Thailand.

With the influx of international viewers, Youku also worked to make the show more easily available. The third season had already been up on YouTube for several months before any English subtitles were provided. For the fourth season? Subtitles were available a week after an episode aired. International viewers such as myself were able to keep up with the show with only a slight delay. (And each episode is generally around 3 hours long, split into two parts, so there was plenty of content to keep you busy while waiting for the next episode.)

This brings us to the present. After much anticipation SDC’s fifth season and the unsubbed first episode is finally up on Youku’s YouTube channel, featuring returning captains Han Geng and Wang Yibo, plus newcomers Xin Liu and Nathan Lee.


Youku has announced that it does not plan on making episodes with English subtitles available on YouTube. Instead, the video hosting service invites international audiences to download their Youku International App in order to watch the episodes with subtitles, and fans have taken to Twitter to voice their complaints.

First of all, the app itself seems to have some bugs. Many users have been complaining that they are not able to download it, or that it frequently crashes even after downloading.

If you are able to get the app running, it’s not easy to navigate and does not have a search function. I had to tap around quite a bit before I was able to find what I was looking for, scrolling past video after video of “VIP” locked content that I would have to pay to watch. Some people have also noted that the video player lacks many of the features available on YouTube, such as 10 second replay or fast forward.

Finally, the app does not have any casting or mirroring function, meaning there is no way to watch the video on a screen other than your phone. Not even a tablet or iPad will work. For fans used to using YouTube to watch the show on a much larger screen, this is incredibly disappointing. Users are complaining about not being able to appreciate the dance performances on a smaller screen and also the fact that the font size of the subtitles is small and hard to read.

The excitement of the new season of Street Dance of China has been considerably dampened by the lack of accessibility for international fans. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how Youku decides to respond to the concerns of its audience, and whether or not they will consider making English subtitles available on YouTube in the future.