Big Tech Has Seen The Potential Of China’s Web Novels And Short Dramas. When Will Luxury Follow Suit?

ByteDance, Baidu, Kuaishou, and Xiaomi are venturing into web novels and short dramas to realize a new monetization model. Brands should take a leaf out of their book. 

What Happened: Be it the “bossy president” or “rich boyfriend born with a golden spoon,” the predictable yet addictive and highly satisfying plots of web novels have amassed a myriad of online readers in China. According to the Chinese Academy of Sciences report, 48.6 percent of internet users read web fiction and the market size exceeded $4.2 billion (30 billion RMB) in 2021.

Given this gold mine of opportunity, big tech giants such as ByteDance, Baidu, Kuaishou, and Xiaomi are all venturing into the sector. To realize a new monetization model, these companies are starting to release dedicated online literature applets and producing their own short dramas inspired by web novels. Phone company Xiaomi recently launched the “Duohua short video” app, allowing paid users to watch short video series. Baidu’s free novel site Qimao is also testing the short drama business. And more than 2,000 series published on the video-sharing app Kuaishou have upwards of 100 million views on the platform.

The Jing Take: Amid sluggish advertising revenue performance, tech conglomerates in China are looking to find new engines of growth. Compared with TV dramas and movies — which require significant budgets and do not necessarily have a high return on investment — the shooting cycle of short plays is generally much faster (within 10 days) and the production costs can be kept below $1,400 (10,000 RMB), according to Tech Planet.

In addition, web novel-inspired short dramas enjoy a broader audience: not only do millennials and Gen Z viewers love them, but they are also finding middle-aged readers too. According to the 18th National Reading Survey, 23.2 percent of seniors aged over 50 habitually read online literature. Continue to read the full article here