Chinese streaming platforms to win over viewers with tailored content

2017-06-14 10:09Global Times Editor: Li Yan ECNS App Download

When the first season of Don't Kiss Me, Evil Master hit streaming platform Tencent Video on January 9, the show turned out a hit, earning more than 30 million views in 24 hours.

"Don't Kiss Me, Evil Master finally came out after months of waiting. Looking at the comments on screen, I was surprised to see that many people felt the same as I did - We want to see a second season," Netizen Wang Feipu posted in his review on Chinese media review site Douban.

On Monday, Tencent Penguin Pictures, Tencent Video's production studio, announced plans for a third and fourth season of the show, together with 40 other new projects targeting audiences with different tastes.

The new shows will fall under a variety of genres including urban romance, campus life and fantasy adventure.

"We are targeting a segmented market comprised of mainly two groups: young male and female users willing to pay for content," Fang Fang, general manger of Tencent Penguin Pictures' Tianxuan Studio, told the Global Times on Monday. Fang pointed out that by analyzing audience data, streaming platforms can easily form an understanding of what type of dramas different segments of the audience want to watch.

According to Fang, the young female demographic can be further divided into two groups: the qingshunü group of 20-30 year olds and the 20 and under group.

"We also have dramas tailored for young women under 20 who prefer Mary Sue stories and enjoy daydreaming of what it would be to live in the world depicted in dramas such as Don't Kiss Me, Evil Master and Starry Way to Success," she said.

"They don't have much money, but are willing to pay for these types of dramas and enjoy discussing topics related to those dramas online. Meanwhile, young male users are enthusiastic about shows featuring tough men and are willing to pay to watch them. However, they are not as likely to discuss them on social media."

Mary Sue shows in China usually feature an idealized and seemingly perfect fictional character who young Chinese girls wish they could be and a setting into which they can insert themselves.

'Head' content

Tencent Video is not the only platform getting in on the self-produced content trend. Chinese streaming companies iQiyi and Sohu TV have also recently released plans for producing new content.

On Friday, iQiyi announced it was cooperating with a number of heavy weight Chinese filmmakers including Feng Xiaogang, Stephen Chow and Han Sanping to produce various big-budget projects that are often referred to as "head" content in the Chinese streaming industry.

Wang Xiaohui - chief officer of content for iQiyi, which recently began cooperating with overseas streaming giant Netflix - said that iQiyi plans to invest heavily in this type of "head" content in the "same way that Netflix does."

According to Wang, these big projects will involve 1-3 seasons of shows with runtimes of 45-60 minutes each episode, which is quite similar to the TV shows in the US. Wang also revealed that investments into these series currently runs around 10 million yuan ($1.47 million) per episode, which also puts them almost on par with Netflix.

The heavy influence of Japanese anime, comics and games, as well as new ways for viewers to interact with each other through comments have helped Chinese streaming dramas evolve into more than just a show that people passively watch. With these new communication tools - such as danmu (bullet screen), which allow viewers to leave comments that appear on screen when other viewers watch the same program - audiences can interact with each other in "real time" even though they are not watching at the same time, making the viewing experience much more social.

Paid subscribers

According to a report by, young viewers, especially those under 30, have been the main driving force boosting viewership numbers on streaming platforms. Statistics of entertainment research institute Entgroup show that people born in the 1980s and 1990s make up 88 percent of streaming platform users.

In 2016, more than 70 million users in China spent more than 10 billion yuan on streaming content. However, this figure still lags far behind the U.S. market. According to statistics from eMarketer, the U.S. market currently has a subscription user population of 221.8 million, of which Netflix users account for more than 22.3 percent.

According to Sun Zhonghuai, CEO of Tencent Penguin Pictures, Tencent Video has more than 300 million users, while the number of paid users is expected to surpass 30 million this year.

Both Wang and Sun agreed that while paying for streaming content is becoming a trend among users in China, Chinese streaming platforms still need to focus their efforts on creating quality content to bring in more paid subscribers to their platforms.


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