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How do Chinese micro dramas compete for attention in a world of 2.5+ hours daily short-video consumption?
Source: | Author:Amie | Published time: 2023-04-27 | 1323 Views | Share:

The rise of short-form videos in recent years has further fragmented users' time, and the film and television industry has gradually entered an era measured in "seconds": long dramas with 50-60 episodes are fading away, and are being replaced by fast-paced short dramas with 12 episodes.

Micro dramas, which are "small but complete," have emerged and quickly gained popularity. Each episode ranges from 2 to 10 minutes, with no traditional plot logic, but instead features strong conflicts and fast-paced storylines. 

According to recent data, the number of key micro dramas released on online platforms was 58 in 2021, which increased to 172 in 2022. The daily active users of micro dramas on Kwai have exceeded 260 million. By the end of 2022, the total number of plays for short dramas selected for the Kwai Starlight program had exceeded 50 billion, and over 100 short dramas had annual play volumes of over 100 million. 


Why is the momentum of micro dramas so strong, and what is the ecosystem like? At the Internet Audio and Video Development Conference held in Chengdu, many practitioners gathered to analyze the development of the micro drama industry.

Simplifying content and seizing fragmented time

The report "China Internet Audio and Video Development Research Report," released in Chengdu a few days ago, showed that as of December 2022, the number of Internet audio and video users in China had reached 1.04 billion. In the sub-field, the number of short video users reached 1.012 billion, with an average daily usage time of over 2.5 hours per person. 


The rapid development of short videos has made micro dramas increasingly become the "main force". According to the latest definition by the National Radio and Television Administration, micro dramas refer to "single episodes ranging from tens of seconds to about 15 minutes, with a relatively clear theme and storyline, and a more continuous and complete story plot." The report showed that the number of key micro dramas released on

online platforms was 58 in 2021, which increased to 172 in 2022.  

According to the "2020-2022 Micro Drama Development Observation Report," more than a thousand institutions have entered the micro drama market, forming a situation in which the industry is centered around film and television MCNs, with various participants such as traditional film and television companies and online literature platforms competing. Web-based MCNs that excel in controlling user emotions are the main producers of hit dramas on Douyin and Kwai, while traditional film and television companies, known for their scriptwriting, are showing a trend towards producing high-quality content with new themes.

Major platforms have also improved their support plans for micro dramas. Kwai has the "Starlight Micro Drama Plan," Tencent Video has the "Ten Minute Theatre," Mango TV has the "Big Mango Theatre," and Youku has the "Fuyao Plan."  

Yue Ke, head of the Kwai Entertainment Drama Business Center, believes that the reason why micro dramas can stand at the forefront is that the total number of Chinese Internet audio and video users has reached 1.04 billion, and under such a huge user demand, consumption needs have become fragmented, diverse, and varied, gradually moving towards direct and quick content.

Chen Yiyi, vice president of Kwai and head of the entertainment business, believes that for creators, this is a unique business model and a monetization channel, which allows practitioners to not only tell stories but also earn a profit, and enables the public to consume more diverse forms of content. "Today, micro dramas have become a new incremental opportunity for the film and television industry, and we even see that micro dramas have the opportunity to drive some deep-seated changes in the film and television industry."

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