2019-06-12 22:17:42

Chinese Variety Shows Reinvented: Originality in Production Mode and Distribution Strategy


On the afternoon of June 11, 2019, Chinese Variety Shows Reinvented: Originality in Production Mode and Distribution Strategy, jointly sponsored by the National Radio and Television Administration, China Media Group and Shanghai Municipal Government, jointly undertook by Shanghai Municipal Administration of Radio and Television, Radio and Television Shanghai, Shanghai Film Group, co-organized by SMG Innovation and Iformats Chinese Formats Database was held in 9th Floor at STV Mansions. This forum discussed the current situation and future development direction of China\'s original programs from three hot topics profoundly:"cultural program innovation", "media advancement" and "mode overseas output".

From independent innovation to cultural inheritance and innovation, every TV practitioner follows the law of development of the media industry and constantly bring forth the new through the old. During the three years from 2016 to 2019, the innovative path of focusing on "small cost, positive energy and great feelings" has become the mainstream of TV and Internet content production. READERS, NATIONAL TREASURE, NEW STORIES ABOUT FORBIDDEN CITY , HEROES and a large number of cultural, historical, scientific and technological types of originality in production mode continue to emerge, which was well-received and fruitful. At the same time, the accumulation of independent original programs is gradually reversing the "deficit" of program mode trading. China\'s excellent original programs such as NATIONAL TREASURE, SUPER VOCAL, READERS and I AM THE ACTOR have attracted overseas attention with their unique cultural personality and solid model foundation, and have successively signed contracts with overseas institutions to open up a new way of cultural export. At present, the penetration of technology in the media industry has not only changed the creative thinking of producers, but also completely changed the way viewers watch. The increasingly mature AI technology and 5G network covering daily life will have a great influence on media production in the future. With advanced technology and scientific and technological means, the mainstream media is continuously stepping to the new era.

Gao Yunfei, director of Radio and Television Shanghai and president of Shanghai Media Group addressed at the meeting. He said that for the television industry, cultural inheritance, on the one hand, is to inherit the integrity of the excellent traditional Chinese culture, on the other hand, is to inherit the integrity of the excellent traditions of the television industry. Innovation is aimed at adapting to the development of the times and the appreciation needs of the audience, constantly creating in technology and content, and developing quality and innovative works. Guiding innovation with cultural inheritance will not deviant, and innovation ensures cultural inheritance meaningful. Under the guidance of the National Radio and Television Administration, iFORMATS team, together with China Media Group, Beijing Satellite TV, Hunan Satellite TV, Tencent Video and other platforms, held the "WISDOM in China" activity at the International Market of Communications Programmes in Spring for two consecutive years, and organized a delegation to promote original programs to the world. The overseas distribution and export of such original models as NATIONAL TREASURE, I AM THE ACTOR and SUPER VOCAL fully shows that Chinese programs are increasingly favored by the world, which is also an initiative of SMG to keep up with cultural inheritance and innovation.

Cultural Inheritance and Innovation——Digging up the Treasure of Chinese Culture and Innovating Excellent Program Mode

Host: Leng Song, Secretary General of World Media Research Center, Institute of Journalism and Communication, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Guests of the forum (from left to right): Yu Lei, producer and chief director of NATIONAL TREASURE of China Media Group, Guan Zhengwen, founder and chairman of Share Television Media, chief director of THE WONDERFUL READ, Chen Chen, host of SMG, and producer of HEROES
Before the dialogue, Leng song, the host, pointed out several bottlenecks that he thought the current video and film industry encountered:
Commercial customers hesitate to invest in video and wait-and-see; 
The short video with vertical screen impacts the large screen;
The requirements and standards of values are constantly improving; 
Variety shows in China follow the trend seriously.
Leng Song: Why do you dare to increase the proportion of drama performance on the variety show stage and where did you get the courage to choose the topic? Where did you get the courage to innovate in form?
Yu Lei: The ideology of NATIONAL TREASURE has undergone a long period of breaking and reshaping, and there is a certain gap between museum theme and variety. As creators of TV programs, we try our best to do a good job of "interpretation" and "connection". First of all, cultural relics are placed in museums for viewing. There is not only a space distance between the audience and the relics, but also a distance in history and culture. In order to close the distance, the program should take the form of literature and art, which is easy to accept by the audience, so that the audience can enter the world of cultural relics and know more about cultural relics. Secondly, the content of the program should not be too high to be popular. Through continuous learning and years of accumulated experience, we spare no effort to approach the audience in a simple and in-depth way.
Leng Song: How can dramatic scenes be performed on the stage in limited budget and time and be successful?
Yu Lei: There are interviews, songs and dances, stage dramas and musicals in NATIONAL TREASURE. The principle of our creation is that no matter what method we use, the audience will uncover the veil of time and see the history of cultural relics. First of all, we will spend a lot of time polishing the script, and then explain in detail what kind of cultural relics we are going to talk about and what kind of knowledge is involved to the stars who conform to the script settings. Many stars think it is an honor to be tied to cultural relics after the show is finished.
Leng Song: Is there an inevitable connection between your own experience and hobbies and the selection of topics for variety shows and the innovative choice of resource forms? What do you think of cultural programs?
Guan Zhengwen: As far as I concerned, video products are all cultural products. Food programs talk about food culture, while music programs talk about music culture. If literature and history are only classified as cultural programs, the word "culture" is too narrow. On the other hand, nowadays, more and more programs show the author\'s ideas. The creation of a new program and a new theme, in fact, more from the author\'s inner love and recognition of the value of the theme, rather than out of some speculative demand.
Leng Song: How do you come up with a dramatic way of showing heroes? 

Chen Chen: The star is an important option for the audience to watch the program, but the stars themselves are not related to the heroes in essence. Only when the stars enter into the role of heroes, can they close the distance with the viewers.

Leng song: How to make use of multiple forms of innovation in the creation process?

Guan Zhengwen: The program concludes the form from the content, then finds its form and shows it. If the next content is different, we will change the form. Otherwise, the program is divided into two categories, one should constantly make formal innovation, amazing the audience; the other one is so-called pursuit of content value, and make excellent content steadily in fact.

Leng Song: What is the most difficult thing about HEROS and how to overcome it?

Chen Chen: In fact, there are many difficulties. I think there is a threshold for any program. This threshold is either at the front end or at the back end. For example, HERO can be made into an interview program in the studio. In this way, its viewing effect and influence will definitely be discounted. Therefore, the threshold can only be set at the time of shooting. We must go to the field. We must bring the eyewitnesses to the field together. In fact, many people probably know a lot of stories; the key is how to bring them a sense of novelty. The program will go to places that no one else has ever visited and find people who have never been mentioned before.

All-media Communication-An Advanced Stage of Mainstream Communication



Guests of the forum (from left to right): Song Jiongming, Deputy Director of Radio and Television Shanghai and director of the SMGNEWS; Fang Fei, Assistant President of Hunantv.com Interactive Entertainment Media Co., Ltd.; Mao Jia, Chief Content Officer of Huachuan Culture, CEO of Chuntian Film and Television, and Chief director of NEW STORIES ABOUT FORBIDDEN CITY.

Gao Qi: Mr. Song, as the person in charge of the SMGNEWS, how to manage the all-media communication work? How will you face the challenges of the future?

Song Jiongming: I think it is divided into three aspects.

The first is to use a good platform, that is, what platform is used to achieve the dissemination of content. The integrated communication in the all-media era (the communication platform you have) is not entirely controllable. You must consider how you can leverage the product features of other platforms to disseminate your content.

The second is to make good use of talents and better sort out the talent structure. According to the different platforms, people are put in different positions based on their own characteristics and strengths to carry out production.

The third is to make good use of resources. Whether resources can be turned into products of interest to the audience is that resources must be redeveloped. If properly developed, value can be created.

Gao Qi: Mr. Song once put forward a point of view: "All media must do a good job of distribution." So, does SMG have any good experiences and examples to share with us?

Song Jiongming: As our all media communication strategy, we also produce some programs extending from news in the SMGNEWS. For example, the production of LIFE MATTERS 2 this year was produced by the SMGNEWS. In addition, there is a more familiar program DREAM HOME. These programs have changed the traditional image of people as newsmen, but I think it is still about our concern for social reality, about the expression of mainstream values. In the past, we used to complete the production chain in the radio and television channels, including program production to broadcast and to advertising recycling. But now, when it comes to other platforms especially, we\'re just offering content, and then we\'re talking about copyright revenue, which is what we now call "distribution".

Gao Qi: Mr. Fang, what is the value of the all-media platform for Mango TV? How does Mango TV think about this? 

Fang Fei: Let\'s start with the platform operation. As an Internet video website platform operation, we need to do two things, the first is to divide netflow, the second is to divide budget. Therefore, the core of the platform operation is to convert the traditional television time thinking into user thinking.

All of the Internet competition, in fact, is about user time competition, so its logic is different from the previous linear orchestration, distribution. After five years of development, the operation logic of entire Mango TV has changed into the logic based on basic algorithm, that is, the logic of user operation. 

Gao Qi: At the Video Conference at the end of May this year, Mango TV announced an 80% growth this year. How is the work done?

Fang Fei: Hunan Broadcasting System is characterized by the cruelty of KPI. Advertising in the first half of the year has not yet met expectations, with an increase of about 40% over the previous year. But this year\'s development is still very benign. During the same period in the first half of the year, the number of daily active platform users increased by about 30%, and the average daily user has now reached nearly 50 million, reaching a peak of 65 million, and the number of regular online users has reached 15 million. With the growth rate of the platform, advertising revenue is expected to exceed 4 billion this year and number of membership will close to 1.9 billion to 2 billion. At present, it has entered a virtuous circle, achieving profits for three consecutive years, and the overall profit scale and the scale of users are steadily increasing.

Song Jiongming: I have a question need to ask Mr. Fang, just now you mentioned that this year\'s growth may exceed 70%. How can this growth be realized in the general environment where the overall advertising growth rate in the industry is declining?

Fang Fei: First of all, as a new media transformed from television, our initial advertising approach is closer to the traditional media, accounting for about 70% or 80% percent of revenue. Hence, this part is the basis of our growth and increasing hugely with the optimization of technology. The second reason is that we have an advantage in the rights and interests of advertising, accounting for 85%, which have a relatively large growth this year.

Gao Qi: Can you take NEW STORIES ABOUT FORBIDDEN CITY as an example to briefly explain how to integrate the media convergence from the front end of the program into the whole chain design?

Mao Jia: First, NEW STORIES ABOUT FORBIDDEN CITY is a very typical project of all-media communication. From the perspective of all media, when making NEW STORIES ABOUT FORBIDDEN CITY, it was almost completely covered by TV stations, network broadcasting platforms and even offline media, including outdoor media.

In the program, Taobao, the most special media, is not only a link in the transmission chain of this program, but also a link in the industrial chain of this program. The core of linking the two chains is cultural and creative products. When we connect the industrial chain to the communication chain, we can make every link in the communication chain produce market value. With the enrichment of all-media means and the development of technological means, the connection between the industrial chain and the communication chain will surely become closer and closer.

Gao Qi: 5G technology can bring more imagination to our communication. How can we judge and master it?

Song Jiongming: As a producer of all content, my intuitive feeling is that the development of 5G will greatly speed up the production process of our video content production team (at least) and greatly improve the speed and efficiency of our video production. When efficiency increases, more and better content can be presented.

Gao Qi: This means that we have to seize the opportunity to prevent anxiety. How does Mr.Fang always see this series of changes?

Fang Fei: Let me say 5G and AI separately. KPI of all website operators is to let users indulge, to satisfy users\' deeper and happier needs, and to strive for more time for users, which is one direction of technological development. How to make further improvement? The only thing is to enhance its immersion. Therefore, we are making such a series of innovations, and we need to develop the content of VR for the next generation. In the 5G era, I think the direction of the whole content will probably make it impossible for you to tell the edges of the two worlds apart.

As for AI, we hope to use artificial intelligence to predict the changing trend of users. It will accurately tell you some general orientation, give our final content creator a general orientation, and bring you assistance in the aspect of content producer.

Gao Qi:Director Mao Jia, what is your opinion on this point of view?

Mao Jia: In terms of content production, I agree with you very much. I am extremely eager for the arrival of 5G era, greatly reducing the time and labor cost of simple and repeated labor in the initial stage of post-production and freeing the director to concentrate on the core creative production. On the other hand, for the industry-oriented programs, with the arrival of 5G era and the emergence of more industrial chains and more production materials, there will be more diversified production methods, shortening the consumption cycle from design to products, which is an unimaginable leap.
From Buyers to Sellers: How to Achieve a Gorgeous Turn in China\'s TV Program Mode


Host: Sun Kan, Deputy Director of SMG Internet Program Center and Head of iFORMATS Project

Forum guests (from left to right): Luo Xin, Director of Hunan Satellite TV Innovation and Research Center; Wu Tong, Deputy Director of Zhejiang Satellite TV Program Center; Yin Xiaowei, CEO of Fremantle Greater China; and Chen Weiwen, Managing Director of Endemol Shine China

Sun Kan: What are the main reasons why programs such as SUPER VOCAL and I AM THE ACTOR can attract overseas partners?

Luo Xin: First of all, learn to understand your customer\'s market and thinking. How do you introduce your model in a way that foreign people can understand? Second, innovation is very important. The whole global market needs something new and better, and these new areas of exploration are likely to attract attention from overseas buyers. SUPER VOCAL and THE SOUND should be considered as an anti-popularization attempt. If it can be popularized, it will at least have channels, ways and means to open up the international market path.

Wu Tong: First, this program is very new, because there is no such mature actor program abroad. Second, we have more subjects than foreign countries, and our performance method and category are more than foreign countries. Therefore, we think that the key lies in the theme. If there is the same theme in home and abroad, the foreign customers will not necessarily choose our program.

Sun Kan: In the field of reality TV, what do you think is the most important core reason for the overseas buyers from the perspective of copyright? 

Yin Xiaowei: I\'m going to share with you here four criteria for what kind of programming model we\'re going to choose, we\'re going to promote, we think it could have a global distribution of genes. 1. Transforable: cross-cultural and applicable; 2. Returnable: sustainable, both in terms of resources and materials; 3. Scalable: operable, budget is adjustable; 4. Promotionable: Extensible, selling point and USP. Programs are not equal to patterns, and a good program does not mean a good pattern.

Sun Kan: Is joint research and development a means to help Chinese TV program output?

Luo Xin: Why should the Chinese model be exported overseas? I think there are two reasons. The first reason is the future trend of development. If you want to be a cultural leader and have cultural confidence, you must have the confidence to go out in such a step to truly integrate and contact with the international community in the future, so I think this is the first step.

The second step is also based on China\'s original self-confidence, resulting from the gradual development of our economy and culture. In the past, we used to learning from others, right now, we can manufacture on our own, that is to say, from made in China to created in China. Many well-known producers came to the scene today; in fact, they are masters in the industry. The works they created are not simply purchases and copies, but new programs based on their own understanding of the Chinese market and analysis of hot and painful points in the Chinese market.

In this process, we have also introduced overseas joint research. We hope to join hands with overseas production companies to exchange ideas and produce more good works suitable for this market.

Sun Kan: Making mode is the process of making standards. What are the standards of Endemol Shine in the process of helping Chinese programs export overseas?

Chen Weiwen: There are three stages: going out, going in and going on. Due to great cultural differences between the two cultures, we should know how to going in when we going out. Only after we really going in, can we continue to going on through derivation and better promotion.

Sun Kan: In the past two years, the Korean model has been successfully promoted overseas. What can we learn from it?

Yin Xiaowei: South Korea\'s model has also gone through several stages, which is of great significance to our TV counterparts in China. In the first stage, CJENM, South Korea\'s most successful program export company, has bought all the popular Fremantle models, truly down-to-earth digested the methodology of the European and American models, and personally practiced the most classic European and American programming models, and then localized them from inside to outside. Now their own research and development department is becoming more and more mature, and can produce a more systematic program production catalog. In fact, the Korean market has experienced the same pains as our Chinese market, and it has also experienced a learning-digestion-output process.

Sun Kan: The iFormats project has been dedicated to sharing with overseas counterparts for the past two years. We believe that China does not lack good ideas and good teams, and also has a relatively tolerant room for trial and error. However, what we lack is the awareness and standards of model copyright, and the ability to translate experience into standard texts. For example, the programming model is like a "chip with high-tech content", which is the most central link in the entire programming process. Master it and you will have the real commercial value. Only when China\'s original program modes "achieve a gorgeous turn from buyer to seller" will it become more real.

iFORMATS模式总监 阳欣哲

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

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