Netflix made an unprecedented move in 2013 when it published an entire season of the original show, House of Cards, at one time. This was the first time the online company made such a bold move, and some say that this was the origin point of the phenomenon called binge-watching.
This was a pivotal point in the way television has been distributed, but it also had an effect on the way the content is produced. This single change created a ripple effect throughout the industry, and it can be seen in the way outlets like Hulu and Disney are streaming content. The impacts are also global, and they’re felt in countries as remote as China. This area also witnessed something called the “Tiktokification” of popular entertainment.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a popular app that is trending wildly among teenagers from many different nationalities. It allows the user to generate a unique video that’s less than 60 seconds long, but the fun part is that the user also gets to add a funky filter to the video. This allows users to participate in creating fun videos that can be shared and liked. The company that started it all is called Douyin, and the Chinese parent company is a start-up known as ByteDance.
According to an industry survey conducted in 2019, this is the first time people are watching short video content more than longer videos. The survey was conducted by the China Television Drama Production Industry Association. However, TikTok is the only Chinese application that’s gained popularity with audiences all over the world.
According to this report, additional developments are underway to integrate and create a symbiosis between long and short video formats. This is destined to hit the most popular streaming platforms like iQiyi, Youku and Tencent. Wilson Chow leads the communications, technology and media department at PwC, and he noted the increase in the popularity of “short videos and self-produced content, especially those created by KOLs.”
Rising Demand for Mobile Content
The demand for video content on portable devices is rising, but this trend has already been happening in China for some time. Smartphones are the preferred delivery format for TV, film and other video content. Streaming technology, 5G networks and other technology improvements promise an increasing demand for mobile content, according to Chow. Mobile devices now provide streaming players like iQiyi, which is called the Netflix of China. User-generated content is now highly competitive, and these players are already publishing short videos.
Netflix also initiated some innovations in interactive content that were taken up by iQiyi and other Chinese streaming platforms. For example, Netflix launched the first interactive film called Black Mirror: Bandersnatch during 2018. Interactive content is just one part of this recent wave of data-driven streaming services.
Viewer metrics are playing an increasingly important role in how TV shows get extended or cancelled. However, when Netflix cancelled certain shows after only a few seasons, many fans expressed their disappointment. This trend also influences which shows become hits. According to iQiyi, big data helped to shape the wildly popular hit show, The Story of Yanxi Palace, which features backstabbing concubines. Hip-hop talent shows are also making blockbuster status.
Revenue Sharing Model, Industry Changes
The Chinese streaming platforms also have an impact on the funding sources for TV shows. According to the China Television Drama Production Industry Association survey, over 40 percent of those interviewed believe that China will adopt the revenue-sharing model over the next five years.
This model shares the revenue streams paid by subscribers, and it funds the production houses, intellectual rights and other behind-the-scene costs. It targets the high licensing costs and aims to bring them down even while the demands for content are rising.
Consumers reacting to emerging technologies has generated a seismic shift, according to Chow. He mentions that younger audiences have a shorter attention span for certain kinds of content, and platforms are facing the need to restock their content libraries faster than ever.
The iQiyi revenue-sharing model has already been tested with the release of the Indian hit, “The Man Who Feels No Pain,” and “Triple Threat,” which was jointly produced by Chinese, Thai and American companies. The profit model played out a bit differently in the U.S. where producers got money from airing reruns while also getting up-front payments. Producers must now face precarious conditions from the changes initiated by Netflix and its cohorts.
Production houses across the board face added pressure from these changes. Around 1,884 television and film companies shut down in one year alone, for example. Contributing factors include government regulations, changes in the revenue model and technical improvements.