A Quick Glance: China's Content Trends


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A Hylink digest on China trends in weekly TV dramas, variety shows, internet dramas and box office movies.

TV Dramas

2018 Trend Analysis

A look at the first and second quarter

  • During the first quarter, TV dramas were mostly concentrated within the reality genre. There were several dramas focused on realism which became mainstream on the small screen, including dramas like “The Gentlemen,” “Negotiator,” and “Old Boy.”

  • “Exclusive play” dramas are becoming more and more popular. 68% of total on-air dramas in the first quarter were exclusive play, increasing the TV channels’ purchasing cost of TV dramas.

  • Weekly-broadcast TV drama lacked popularity and ratings were quite low.

Second Quarter

“Urban Affectional” TV dramas conquered the market in the second quarter, such as “The Way We Were” and “Here To Heart.” However, Urban Affectional TV drama can’t satisfy all demographics.

Former film actors being cast in TV dramas has become a hot market trend. Chen Sicheng’s “Great Expectations” and Chen Kun’s “Lost in Love” are good examples, but  didn’t necessarily receive their expected ratings.

Internet Dramas

2018 Trend Analysis

Summer season predictions

  • Summer is usually the top season for internet dramas. 60% of high-quality internet dramas choose to air in July and August. The majority of internet dramas are “Youth Trend” dramas, as their target audience is mainly students on summer break.

  • Summer 2018 saw nearly 20 internet dramas on air. “Youth Trend” internet dramas maintains a large market share, such as “18 Years Old,” “Our Puberty,” and “Twenties Once Again.”

  • Some of China’s detective dramas also have high expectations for viewership and overall ratings.

TV Variety Shows

2018 Trend Analysis

Combining charity with variety shows has become a new trend

  • Variety shows in the second quarter added charity elements, delivering valuable public welfare messages.

  • The charity and entertainment model has proved successful. Adding charity activities to variety shows brings warmth and a level of depth to audiences not commonly felt in other genres.

  • “The Fighting” paid close attention to the left-behind children in China’s rural areas; “Keep Running” focused about the physical and mental health of children;and ”Day Day Up” promoted the importance of environmental issues and helped farmers solve issues surrounding agricultural product waste.

Network Variety Shows

2018 Trend Analysis

IP Competition and Reality Talent Show

  • As the summer season reached its peak, the competition between different platforms was becoming increasingly tense.

    • A battle on captivating traffic between two super IPs, “The Rap of China” and “The Coming One 2” officially began. Both  created new competition rules and rose to a new level. “The Rap of China” expanded to the North America qualifier selection and college competition divisions. “The Coming One” invited A-list actors and singers, hoping to explore new music talent.

  • After huge successes of “Idol” type talent shows, there was a high emergence of idol fans in China, which led to the development of Idol Group Variety Shows.

    • The Idol Group Variety Show of “Idol Producer”; “Nine Percent Travel Tour”; Juexing East Company’s “Juexing TV”; Shanghai Project Banana’s “Sawadika Banana”; and “Rocket Girl 101” are all examples.

  • Youku, iQiyi and Tencent’s focus on Idol Group Variety Shows demonstrates BATs (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) overall structure and strategy.


2018 Trend Analysis

BATs new strategy in the movie industry

  • With China’s rapid development in the culture and entertainment space, there are no longer limits on what this industry can do. Currently, half of China’s “Top 10 Richest” hold shares in the film industry.

  • BATs predicted  the importance of the film industry more than ever before, and all had several decisions to make, ranging from establishing a film company to strategic planning inside the entire film industry.

  • Several of BATs recent activities demonstrated their ambition in the film market. For example, Alibaba just announced its unlimited investment plan for quality film content; Baidu shifted its ticket sales platform from Baidu Nuomi Film to iQiyi; and Tencent Film established a new film distribution company, TengYing Distribution Company.

  • As much as BATs differ on business growth strategies, they do agree on one point: content is the key to success. Though BATs is quite young in the film industry, all have varying strategic plans which include a focus in talent and platform building to master quality content, in order to achieve higher revenue growth.

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