Flash Fiction TV: Why China Is Betting Big on Ultrashort Dramas

With domestic markets nearing saturation and facing stricter regulations, China’s billion-dollar ultrashort drama industry is looking to expand abroad. Amid this shift, studios are rushing to capitalize on the global demand for mobile-optimized, short-form content.

Werewolves, vampires, zombies, and tales of vengeance in North America; Islamic culture and values in the Middle East and Indonesia; and sappy romances, conflicts within wealthy families, and tragedies in Thailand.

These are among the new themes that China’s ultrashort drama industry is now tapping into as it looks to capitalize on the rapidly growing popularity of the genre in international markets.

Unlike traditional TV shows, ultrashort dramas — offering vertical, smartphone-optimized episodes lasting only a few minutes each — are specifically designed for casual viewers who prefer quick, engaging content. The highly successful format is already worth billions of dollars in the domestic market.

So when a Chinese-owned short drama streaming platform approached Huang Mingxiao’s small media firm in the city of Foshan in south China to start producing content for the global market, she jumped at the chance.

“Everyone is now talking about short dramas for overseas viewers,” says the young director, who had only worked on Chinese-produced ultrashorts before the offer. “For many, it’s almost as if it’s the last opportunity to capitalize on the internet era.”

Recalling her surprise at the large turnout for an offline panel on the topic at a December industry conference, Huang says: “I was astonished to see the widespread interest in exploring this field, from individuals in livestreaming to those in cross-border e-commerce.” Continue to read the full article here

This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone