Are Chinese hegemonic dramas turning to “harvest” overseas audiences?

Are Chinese hegemonic dramas turning to “harvest” overseas audiences?

The maid who came to deliver water disturbed their world, and was slapped by the mistress, causing the water glass to shatter on the ground. After being humiliated by the male and female masters in turns, the heroine squatted on the ground in aggrieved manner, crying and picking up glass fragments, while praying to the moon god to give a werewolf to save her… (BGM war song gradually became more and more passionate)

It’s an all-too-familiar Ba Zong drama routine, but the actors all have European and American faces and speak pure American accents. The above clip is from the popular ReelShort short drama “Fated To My Forbidden Alpha” that has recently become popular in the United States.

“Who’s here because of TikTok?”

In the comment section of the ReelShort YouTube account where a clip of the show was posted, an audience member asked, and instantly a large number of viewers responded enthusiastically. Although it is diverted from TikTok, the “Made in China short drama APP” ReelShort has recently been overshadowing the former in Europe and the United States.

According to data from Qimai, Reelshort, which was launched last year, suddenly rushed to the second place in the US iOS free download list and the first place in the entertainment list on the 13th of this month. Since then, it has been ranked in more app stores than the “overseas version” that has long dominated the list. Douyin” Tiktok caused the share price of its parent company, “the first digital publishing company” Chinese Online, to rise sharply.

The export of short plays overseas is nothing new. In fact, in recent years, drama or publishing industry companies such as Aiyouteng, Kuaishou, Chinese Online, Jiuzhou Short Drama, etc. have all arranged to export short plays overseas. However, the phenomenal rise of ReelShort and The successful release of several “American hits” marks the success of Chinese short dramas in “expanding territory” overseas after Chinese online dramas.

The current situation coincides with the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television announcing the launch of a one-month special short drama management work. Later, Douyin announced that it would remove 119 mini program dramas. Various trends seem to remind the industry that short dramas may be greatly affected by the coming “regulatory wave”. The company may use its efforts to “go overseas” as one of its life-saving straws.

ReelShort creates the first batch of hot products

“Teaching them how to fish” is the real way to go to sea 

What’s more exciting for the industry is that unlike selling local domestic dramas to other countries, the batch of hit short dramas created by ReelShort is a true “teaching them how to fish” type of overseas industry.

With a completely European and American cast, pure European and American accents, and elements such as werewolves and vampires combined with local audience preferences, the plot of the overlord that is most familiar to Chinese people has turned into a “European and American limited edition”, which has attracted European and American audiences who are used to Netflix’s high-quality dramas. Quite superior.

Take “Fated To My Forbidden Alpha” promoted by ReelShort as an example. The play is based on the werewolf theme that is most loved by European and American audiences (Alpha is the level at the top of the pyramid in European and American werewolf culture), and integrates the “revenge of the heroine” in Chinese online articles. “Urban Rich Family”, “Love at First Sight”, “Bi Dong” and other classic elements of Ba Zong’s literary style, and “female drama stories” that have never been seen by European and American audiences have gradually detonated major social media fields in Europe and the United States.

After typing keywords for the series on TikTok, Mr. Rhino discovered that the current topic of the same name for the series on the platform, #fatedtomyforbiddenalpha, has reached 4.3 million+ views. Under the topic, fashion blogger @alodiathaliel shared her recent experience of following the show and her life. Blogger @kellzham commented that the plot of the maid being humiliated by the male master was too barbaric.

This drama, coupled with another hit “Never Divorce a Secret Billionaire Heiress”, has also successfully pushed the number of followers of ReelShort’s official account on TikTok to 371.7k. There are already people on the platform who use the plot content in the drama to recommend workplace outfits. “Second creation”, some popular bloggers also use new tags such as #SHORT FILM# to define this type of content.

On YouTube, the official account of ReelShort also released clips of the first 20 episodes of the show “for free” to attract traffic. Many videos have received millions of views. Some viewers said in the comment area that they finished watching the show in one go. This drama, some viewers thought the plot was shit but also quite funny.

Therefore, although such dramas have received mixed reviews on social media, it cannot be denied that overseas short dramas continue to explore the same path as previous overseas short videos, which can be regarded as a direction in the initial market share. European and American audiences have popularized what a “short play” is. This breakthrough in communication is of great significance for the subsequent development of short plays overseas.

Foreign shell, Chinese core

    Are the hot items “Made in China”? 

So how did these hot hits come about?

Before answering this question, let us first clarify the three basic models of overseas short drama production. One is that the domestic team shoots, produces and then sells it to overseas markets; the other is that the domestic team goes overseas to shoot the material and then gets it back. Post-production and distribution are done domestically; third, the production is completely outsourced to overseas teams.

As for the first type, the script basically adopts the “English adaptation” of the Chinese Shuangju script, and most of the actors are foreign models from China. The advantage of this model is low cost, but the shortcomings are also quite obvious. The script writing lacks integration with local audience preferences, and the credibility of Western stories performed by foreign models in exotic environments is also relatively low.

The cost of the second model has suddenly increased. When domestic teams go overseas to shoot, transportation and accommodation costs account for the majority. Moreover, it is not easy to find actors when overseas network resources are limited, so there are currently very few teams in the industry that adopt this model. , the previous hit short drama “Escape from the British Museum” adopted this model because it only needed domestic actors.

Therefore, the third model of outsourcing purely overseas teams is currently the mainstream in the production of this type of drama. Starting around April this year, many international students and Chinese in film-related majors in the United States began to get involved in short drama projects. Generally, domestic platforms discuss scripts with these Chinese production teams, and most of the filming is concentrated in New York and Los Angeles, where film and television resources are relatively concentrated. .

Take the Reelshort platform as an example. Due to the large number of shooting projects, Reelshort has already accumulated considerable popularity in the local area. By connecting internal producers with local teams, it can more quickly advance multiple projects simultaneously.

Why choose a Chinese team? This is mostly based on considerations of communication difficulty and cost reduction. Because short plays such as “shooting more than ten pages of scripts a day” are actually extremely rare in Hollywood, but Chinese directors and producers are different. They are more familiar with the high-tempo working methods of domestic platforms, familiar with domestic production processes, and can work on budgets. easier to control.

The Chinese team also has a major advantage. Many of the core members have backgrounds in narrative feature films. The quality of the finished film is actually slightly better than many low-quality and earthy short dramas in China, which is more in line with the tastes of overseas audiences. Therefore, if you have seen the behind-the-scenes of the filming of this type of drama, you will be surprised to find that behind the camera of a group of actors with European and American faces are all Chinese with Asian faces.

A new wave of regulation is coming

  Is “going to sea” a life-saving straw? 

The success of Reelshort’s short drama in the European and American markets has once again boosted the confidence of the entire domestic short drama industry in going overseas. Especially with the coming of a new round of regulation, “going overseas” may become a life-saving straw for short drama companies.

However, although many people in the industry think that overseas short dramas are a blue ocean, the actual situation is that each company has its own joys and worries. Nowadays, the situation of overseas short plays can be roughly divided into three categories:

The first type is dominated by online writing platforms, such as Chinese Online, China Literature, Xinyue Times, Dianzhong, etc. They can draw on their rich experience in online writing overseas to expand the market, so they have launched popular products represented by ReelShort.

The second category is long and short video platforms represented by Aiyouteng and Kuaishou. In 2022, Kuaishou built TeleKwai, a special area for short dramas, in its overseas short video platform Kwai. For long videos, it mainly puts the platform’s existing content online on the overseas version platform. For example, the Youku short drama “The Golden Maid” is in Tiktok The total views exceeded 230 million.

There is also a category where top players in domestic mini-program short dramas choose to go overseas, such as Jiuzhou Short Drama, which uses a set of mature methods in producing mini-program short dramas to take root overseas.

To sum up, although the overseas approaches are different, the industry obstacles faced by these platforms have many commonalities. On the one hand, the short drama industry is essentially a streaming business. However, compared with China, the cycle for a short drama to be streamed overseas through Google, TikTok or Twitter is often longer, and the volume is very slow. This may be why it is not until November. There are reasons for the drama.

On the other hand, compared with domestic audiences, foreign audiences are generally more inclined to watch high-quality film and television dramas, and it is quite doubtful whether they will pay for “local short dramas”. On the ReelShort APP, European and American viewers usually have to pay 72 gold coins per episode to watch a short drama. The purchase price of gold coins is 10 euros/1000 gold coins, which is equivalent to the price of one episode of short drama about 5.6 yuan. A short drama with 50 episodes The show costs 250 yuan.

Therefore, if European and American audiences who are accustomed to watching high-quality dramas are asked to pay for “local short dramas”, they may not be able to dig out their pockets too easily.


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