By Joyce Xu(Shanghai Daily)
The Chinese web series industry experienced wild growth over the past two years when many new series were produced to grab a share of the audience boom, an STV Forum was told yesterday at the ongoing 23rd Shanghai TV Festival.
Some series like “The Grave Robber’s Journal,” “Dr. Qin” and “Candle in the Tomb” generated significant online audiences. But many others were rejected due to poor storytelling, bad acting and low content quality.
Wang Xiaohui, chief content officer of iQiyi, told the forum on the future of Chinese original web series that the trend has changed in many aspects.
“The demographic structure is now more comprehensive," Wang said. " More older generations are starting to shift from traditional television to the internet .”
“The advertising has flowed in to support web series and we are also seeing major film production teams and famous directors taking web series projects.
The industry reported growth of 30 percent in 2016 and the revenue from paid subscriptions has been evened out by advertising income. It's estimated that subscription revenues could surpass the film box office by 2020.
However, the thriving industry is not free from crisis. When there’s a large increase in supply, many companies get caught in the price bubble due to excessive investment and hype.
“It’s a process of fighting for major projects, stretching the episodes with stars who bring online traffic, and increasing the number of series while lowering the quality," he said. "Eventually the audience will switch to watching American TV series again after experiencing too many disappointments.”
As change is inevitable, the web series content industry is waking up to the need to establish a more mature business model driven by content rather than sky-high IP and capital.
Hou Xiaoqiang, founder of China Wit Media and Beijing Jinying Technology, said that“Good IP projects emphasize participation and can better interact with audiences.”
Capital is also greatly influencing the industry, Bai said. Production companies are often not given enough time to develop major IPs due to the investment company’s performance and earnings schedules. They push the producers to finish in a very short time.
“Eventually our focus should just go back to producing the content itself,” Bai said.