2023-06-22 21:00:00

STVFORUM|Telling Compelling Chinese Stories through Miniseries


The 28th STVFORUM “Upgrading of Miniseries ‘New Forces’ & Miniseries Pitch Fest” was held at the Shanghai Exhibition Center on June 22. The event brought together leaders from various video platforms who, through pitches, keynote speeches, and roundtable discussions, examined the development of miniseries and facilitated the connection between miniseries projects and market capital. The event was sponsored by strategic partner China Mobile Migu and GUGU at China Mobile Migu, and organized by EW Entertainment, a cultural and entertainment industry research organization.



This Industry Speaks Through Works


Prior to the start of the forum, the pitches were conducted. Representatives from ten projects, including LANDLORD AT MING DYSNASTY, CHINESE NEW YEAR SOCIAL TERROR, NORTHEASTERN RED-AND-WHITE STRIPE WORM, SLAM DUNK GIRL, WHAT ABOUT IMPERFECTION, WELCOME TO 4S STORE, METEORITES, SMALL HOUSEHOLD, BIG CONFLICT, ABNORMAL ANIMAL RESEARCH CENTER and TO KILL A SCIENCE FICTION WRITER, presented their concepts, synopses, creative teams, and cast lineups, along with their financing needs. The remark by host Liang Zhi, “This industry speaks through works”, earned a round of applause from the audience.



Ma Di, General Manager of GUGU at China Mobile Migu, Shi Ji, Short Drama Producer of Shiji Studio, Mango TV, Wang Bailin, Managing Director of Innovative Content, MMA, Yang Yong, General Manager of Qiji Literature, Ximalaya, and Yuan Zhe, creator, scriptwriter, founder of Manul Entertainment gave comments and raised questions for each project, analyzing their strengths, weaknesses, and market prospects.


Ma Di, General Manager of GUGU at China Mobile Migu


During her subsequent keynote speech, Ma Di introduced the development of Migu Studio in miniseries and shared her insights on the industry’s future direction. She revealed that in 2022, Migu established its first miniseries studio with the aim of utilizing new media and miniseries products to tell compelling Chinese stories, creating diverse entertainment experiences, and promoting Chinese culture with a more flexible, diversified, and youthful approach. As the flagship brand for Migu miniseries, GUGU, guided by the vision of “creating great content for great ideas and high value for great content”, has strategically positioned itself and already developed nearly a hundred miniseries, accumulating over 3 billion views.


Ma Di emphasized that given the current trend of fragmented consumption in the audiovisual industry, miniseries “has become a new form of the popular online audiovisual art” that needs further exploration. GUGU has proposed “three dimensions” for creation: warm content, high-quality production, and profound meaning. She hopes that “these dimensions can contribute to the high-quality development of miniseries in collaboration with industry forces.”


Long and Short Video Platforms Collaboration Brings Opportunities to Miniseries


Chen Le, Shanghai Culture Industry Fund Partner, CIO


Chen Le, Shanghai Culture Industry Fund Partner and Chief Investment Officer highlighted the emergence of “numerous possibilities and new hopes” in the field of miniseries. She stated, “Many people have been saying that cultural industry investment, especially in the content industry, is challenging due to its longer creative cycle, which does not align with financial cycles. However, the emergence of miniseries will allow for different forms of expression for more content. From a broad industry perspective, miniseries may break the boundaries between the film and TV content industry and the advertising and marketing industry, forming a new commercial ecosystem. The empowerment of commercial brands through excellent content and the formation of stronger emotional connections between products and consumers are highly anticipated in this new form of business.”


Huang Xia, BesTV & Tomato Media COO


Huang Xia, BesTV & Tomato Media COO, provided specific advice from a platform perspective to the creators. She said that with the market’s development, the divide between long and short video platforms has become increasingly evident. She stated, “There’s a lot of competition among long videos over 10 minutes, which require substantial investment in both content and production. On the other hand, short videos below three minutes are monopolized by MCN companies (online celebrity management companies).” For miniseries that “have evolved from an early stage of rapid growth to pursuing high-quality productions”, she believed that “miniseries between three to ten minutes” might carve out a viable path. She emphasized that their platform “welcomes works of this length” and that she believes it holds the potential to generate diverse miniseries content.


Li La, Platform Operation Department, Tencent Online Video Deputy General Manager


Li La, Platform Operation Department, Tencent Online Video Deputy General Manager, stated, “Tencent Video has been advocating for positive energy, refinement, and new experiences in miniseries and has witnessed a group of well-received works with critical acclaim and box office success in the past two years.” On the development of miniseries, Tencent Video has outlined three content-oriented directions towards the end of last year: “realistic atmosphere, youthful vibe, and freshness”. This has initiated diversified themes on the miniseries track. Li La expressed, “we will work with partners in exploring different niche tracks and genres, further embracing diversity and segmentation.”


Miniseries Need Stronger Storytelling Value


Elaine Qian, Head of Content Innovation, Douyin


Elaine Qian, Head of Content Innovation, Douyin, showcased the development of miniseries over the past few years through changes in platform data. “In less than three years, we have witnessed a shift from singular content to diversified themes. Not only are individual creators excelling in this domain, more film and TV companies are also entering the field.” Based on these changes, Douyin has proposed a new development concept, aiming to “transform user engagement from simply ‘watching’ short videos to actively ‘following’ miniseries. To achieve this, miniseries need stronger storytelling value beyond mere entertainment appeal.”


Shane Xu, General Manager of OGV Department, Bilibili


Shane Xu, General Manager of OGV Department, Bilibili, said that although miniseries had a late start on Bilibili and were placed under the “Small Theater” section, this segment has shown tremendous potential with a sixfold increase in traffic. With promising commercial prospects, she believed that creators would inevitably face greater challenges. “If you rely on building accounts for commercialization, you will be led on to a path of creating ‘short-term content’ that arouses extreme emotions. However, if users are willing to pay for your content, especially for 10-minute productions, the demand for creative quality will be higher. While reducing the duration seems to lower costs, user expectations about story structure and quality remain unchanged. Therefore, this era presents both great opportunities and a fiercely competitive landscape for miniseries creators.”


Yu Ke, Head of Kuaishou Playlet, Kuaishou Entertainment Department


Yu Ke, Head of Kuaishou Playlet, Kuaishou Entertainment Department, also recognized this as a “good era.” He pointed out that miniseries have advantages due to their low investment costs and short production cycles. “The length and flexibility provide us with an edge in the overall content race. From a financial perspective, they have a rapid cash flow turnover, and from a content standpoint, they can iterate quickly. This means that even without significant production scale, everyone can create the content they desire.”


However, he also acknowledged the new challenges brought by “speed.” “Fast iteration implies that our content base needs breakthroughs. The issue that all platforms are currently facing is: What new content can we create to attract users? To some extent, the iteration of production companies is also slowing down. More fresh blood is needed.”


Host Units: State Administration of Radio and Television   China Media Group   Shanghai Municipal People's Government

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