Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Culture / Film and TV

Chinese mini dramas find global fan following

By Liu Yukun | | Updated: 2024-01-05 21:59
Share - WeChat

A good-looking rich man showers lavish gifts on his lady love as he pursues her determinedly. Sounds familiar? It would, considering it is the formula plot peddled by romantic television dramas everywhere. Now, similar dramas are being packaged by Chinese apps as vertical mini-videos lasting just a couple of minutes, which have found a huge fan base worldwide.

With a duration of one to two minutes per episode and around 60-80 episodes making up a series, the love stories are exhausting ways to create hooks every other minute to keep the audiences engaged. Take the example of the trending series Never Divorce a Secret Billionaire Heiress. In just 10 minutes, viewers can run through a complicated plot involving forced marriages and fights for inheritance.

Despite the plot being branded "choppy" and "Wattpad stories written by a 12-year-old", the show gained popularity among audiences in the United States and became a hit on ReelShort, a video streaming platform of California-based Crazy Maple Studio, which is owned by Chinese digital content provider COL Group.

On Nov 11, the app surpassed TikTok to become the most popular entertainment app on Apple's US app store. The latest data from app analysis platform Appfigures shows that ReelShort was downloaded an estimated 2 million times in November 2023 in the US, which brought the company roughly $5 million in revenue in a month, through subscriptions, in-app purchases and advertisements.

ReelShort is not the only Chinese app to venture overseas. Apps such as GoodShort, FlexTV, ShortTV, and 99TV have all entered the North American and Southeast Asian markets, sparking a mini drama production rush.

"The majority of overseas viewers of Chinese mini-dramas are women aged 20 to 50. Therefore, popular content tends to be more female-oriented. North American audiences enjoy romantic stories about werewolves, vampires, CEOs and the mafia. In Southeast Asia, people love stories about family ethics," said Liu Jinlong, leader of Jiuzhou Culture's overseas business.

Jiuzhou Culture launched two mini-drama platforms catering to international audiences this year, 99TV and ShortTV, with the former targeting Southeast Asian markets and the latter mainly for the US, Canada and Australia.

The company now offers Chinese dramas with foreign language subtitles generated by the company's AIGC system, enabling mass production. CEO and chief analyst at consultancy iiMedia Research, Zhang Yi, said that this strategy aims to create more culturally resonant mini dramas and meet the immediate, fragmented entertainment demands of the audience in a cost-effective manner.

"Soap operas featuring love fantasies are not new. Yet, the Chinese apps' unique style has injected new vigor into the market. For content creators, the stories are similar, but the structure has changed to better suit the audience's desire for quick and efficient storytelling," said Cypress Bai, a bilingual mini drama screenwriter based in California.

Despite a business boom, Liu of Jiuzhou Culture noted the challenges in cross-cultural storytelling such as audiences' preference of content, different legal, copyright and regulatory requirements in various countries and regions, remain.

Most Popular
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349