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China’s network dramas go global

(People's Daily Online)    17:31, February 09, 2018

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A Chinese detective network drama has made its debut on Netflix this week following the global streaming giant ramping up its acquisition of Chinese-language content in recent years, with many scholars hailing the move as a Chinese cultural export success.

The drama, OCTB, which will be aired in over 190 countries, tells a story of an undercover detective who crosses paths with familiar faces in the mafia underworld during the final years of Britain’s ruling of Hong Kong. First aired by China’s leading streaming service Youku in 2017, the show has racked up 1.3 billion views, garnering positive reviews from the public and professionals.

OCTB’s successful launch on Netflix is the entertainment behemoth’s latest acquisition of Chinese-language content through deals with China’s streaming platforms. In 2017, Netflix secured the exclusive worldwide distribution rights for China’s blockbuster drama series Day and Night, and southeastern Asian distribution rights for online hit Burning Ice, which have garnered 4 billion and 480 million views in China, respectively.

“Netflix’s acquisition shows that the quality of Chinese network dramas has improved significantly in recent years. With sufficient investment in network dramas, we can now compete with our Western counterparts in the fields of photography, props, and image quality,” Xu Zhiming, assistant president of Youku, told People’s Daily.

Echoing Xu, Chen Xiao, vice director of China’s leading streaming platform iQiyi, noted that good network dramas do not have boundaries if their content and plots are attractive.

With the rise of the cultural industry and internet companies in China, more foreign entertainment giants have shifted their focus to the Chinese-language market. Netflix, for instance, eyed the number of its international subscribers edge past that of the US for the first time in 2017, making the company in urgent need of Chinese network shows with good quality.

As for China, according to statistics from China’s Ministry of Commerce, the country’s export in culture-related products and services reached $126.5 billion in 2017, with a year on year growth of 11.1 percent.

“Chinese-made content can reach more overseas audiences via global streaming platforms including Netflix, which is beneficial for China’s cultural influence and exportation, as well as boosting the country’s cultural industry,” said Xu.

Though the future is promising, many experts noted that China still has a long way to go to beat its Western counterparts regarding network shows, as most of the popular Chinese shows on Netflix are limited to detective genre, while the target audience is mainly people with Asian cultural background.

“In an era of globalization, our audience can be of any cultural background. Under such circumstances, our content should go beyond detective stories and include Sci-Fi and wuxia, while the stories and plots should be more international to serve global audiences,” Chen added.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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