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Content is king for Chinese online streaming platforms


Source: CGTN    Published: 2019-2-18

An industry report from China Netcasting Services Association suggests that the country's Internet audio and video industry experienced a boom last year, with its market size growing by nearly 40 percent in 2018.

An estimated 600 million people are believed to have streamed content, which is nearly half of the country's population. These online platforms are looking to produce more of their own shows by focusing more on original content.

One year ago, a talent survival show "Idol Producer" hit the Chinese Internet as viewers chose nine hopefuls from over 1000 young trainees to form a new boy group called "Nine Percent." The show's influence can still be seen nowadays.

Sophia Xu, a white-collar worker in Beijing, is among millions of fangirls. The post-90s girl used to completely concentrate on work and didn't feel relaxed. But now she can't take her eyes off her idol Cai Xukun.

Sophia has even made many friends who share the same interest online."It's the first time China has its own show on trainees. We not only witnessed their success but participated in the whole process through voting. We know how hard-working they are in the highly competitive selections and closed training sessions," said Sophia.

"The harder you work, the luckier you are," says the slogan behind the four-month show.

Chinese online streaming giant iQIYI, which produced the show, says the concept penetrated the entire process. "This is something new in Chinese media and entertainment. We wanted to show the motivation represented in the show, as these young trainees overcome various difficulties and always fight for their success. And we tried to present the stories and features of each trainee to viewers," said Wang Xiaohui, President of Professional Content Business Group and Chief Content Officer at iQIYI.

In 2018, iQIYI's self-produced programs captivated viewers of different ages and backgrounds from variety shows to series, including its mega-hit costume drama "Story of Yanxi Palace." As more streaming platforms reach the consensus that "content is the king," original content production now rules.

"Currently, the ratio of iQIYI-produced shows to licensed ones through copyright purchases is 1:9. But with our new content strategy, we would like to turn the ratio to 3:7 or even higher. This also helps us develop more IPs to meet viewers' specific demands," Wand added.

Observers say this won't be easy, but playing catch-up could take a cue from overseas counterparts.

"Many online content providers are from the traditional TV or radio industry, but human resource hurdles still exist. Online platforms probably couldn't match or marry the requirement from the traditional media industry. When Netflix produce original content, they do a lot of focus group study. With the huge database, it is easier to get what kind of content is not only popular but also leading the trend," said Han Hua, a fellow at Chongyang Research Institute of Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.  

China Netcasting Services Association also says in 2018, over half of the viewers paid for contents on Chinese online audio and video platforms as more young people are used to it. As such, more quality paid-content is expected in the future.

Han Hua is a research fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.

Key Words: content   media   online   Han Hua  

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