Last Updated on March 20, 2017
*** Note, it is becoming much more difficult to access sites within Mainland China from outside of Mainland China. The one tool, which I have personally used, and like, is the the software called youtube-dl which is 100% open source and available for Windows and Linux.
Tudou.com and Youku.com are great video sites for learning Chinese. If you like a particular video, you might want to download it so you don’t have to constantly have to go back to one of the sites to re-watch it.
Reasons You Might Want To Download Tudou And Youku Videos
- Learning Chinese. Tudou.com and Youku.com are the top video sites in Mainland China. There are millions of videos there, and you can use the sites for watching the news, watching videos, watching TV shows, and almost anything you can imagine with regards to videos.
- If you are a language teacher in Mainland China. There are so many good videos that are very useful to use to help you teach.
- If you don’t have Flash installed. If you for whatever reason don’t have Flash installed on your computer, you won’t be able to play Youku and Tudou videos through your browser. But, there are tools that allow you to download Tudou and Youku videos even if you don’t have Flash or just refuse to use Flash.
1. Using the software called youtube-dl To Download Youku and Tudou Videos
youtube-dl is a 100% free and open-source software that allows you to download videos from many different video sites. Examples of sites you can use it on are youtube.com, news.bbc.co.uk, tudou.com and youku.com. Here is the link where you can download the executable files for Windows and Linux. (Note for Linux: you don’t actually have to install this software, you could just run the binary every time). And if you are interesting in seeing the source code, you can download it via github here.
If you use Ubuntu or Debian, you can also install youtube-dl from the main repositories via doing the command:
sudo apt-get install youtube-dl
(Quick Linux note. Although you can install youtube-dl via apt-get install youtube-dl, if you are using Debian stable or an older version of Ubuntu, you might have an outdated version of youtube-dl which doesn’t work properly on Tudou or Youku, so I recommend you use the newest version by downloading the executable file or source code via github.)
*Extra note. As mentioned before, recently it has become difficult to access sites based in Mainland China from outside Mainland China, or at least the connections are often slow. In addition, some video sites require that your IP address be based in Mainland China for the video to streamed to you. If this is the case for a specific video, or just not being able to use youtube-dl outside of Mainland China, you may need to use a proxy based in Mainland China with a Mainland Chinese IP address with youtube-dl. You can use a proxy with youtube-dl using the –proxy option, though read more about this in the documentation for youtube-dl.
Once you have downloaded and installed youtube-dl, you can then use it to download any video you want. Next, navigate to any directory where you want to have youtube-dl download the video(s). Then, simply run the command youtube-dl followed by the URL
A simple, real-world example of using youtube-dl
This example uses this URL on Youku.
If you just have the binary (executable), but didn’t install it, navigate to where the binary is and do:
If you actually installed youtube-dl, you can just adjust it by removing the ./ in front of the command and can run the command anywhere from the terminal.
How To Get Youtube-dl help
If you just are running the binary, you can type:
to see a list of all options for the command or if you have the software installed, you can run
Additional Info About Youtube-dl
In addition to downloading from a URL directly, you can do batch downloads, download from file, and so much more. youtube-dl will download the video(s) you choose to download into several smaller files. So, either you can watch all of those files individually from youtube-dl, or after downing the video from youtube-dl, you can use another software to combine all of those smaller video files into one larger video file.
youtube-dl is fantastic tool for downloading Youku and Tudou videos. Using youtube-dl will probably give you good quality video. Have you used youtube-dl to download Tudou or Youku Videos? Let’s discuss this in the comments below.