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Story of Yanxi Palace becomes the most-searched TV drama of 2018 amid growing interest in Chinese TV dramas

(People's Daily Overseas New Media)    17:04, January 22, 2019

Official poster of Story of Yanxi Palace

The Chinese TV drama show Story of Yanxi Palace wowed the world by becoming the most searched TV drama of 2018, according to Google’s Year in Search 2018, as Chinese TV dramas experience growing popularity around the world.

The Chinese series was followed by American sci-fi web TV series Altered Carbon, according to Google, which did not include data from the Chinese mainland.

The popular online drama set in the Qing Dynasty has won an enormous fan base. People enjoy the intelligent, determined female character who eventually becomes the second highest imperial noble consort. It has racked up over 18 billion views on iQiyi, a Chinese Netflix-like video platform, since its debut in July 2018.

The popularity of Story of Yanxi Palace has spread beyond the Chinese mainland, especially in other parts of the Asian world like Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei, and shattering viewership records in two other parts of China: Hong Kong and Taiwan. Moreover, the popular drama based on history will be screened at a primary time on Nippon TV starting next month.

Instead of focusing on otherworldly heroes like those from the Marvel Universe, Chinese screenwriters toss their creativity and passion into historical scenarios with inspiration from modern reality. Traditional cultural elements create a new historic angle for foreign audiences to know more about Chinese history while also providing a modern narrative context for people with Oriental cultural backgrounds.

China started producing TV series in 1958. Since then, the country has grown to become the world’s largest producer of TV series. While primarily created to satisfy domestic needs, the Chinese series also serves to entertain more and more overseas audiences.

Official poster of Fuyao

Over the years, about a dozen Chinese historical dramas have been screened in 90 countries and regions worldwide. In 2017, the total export amount surpassed $85 million, according to State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

Chinese historical dramas have gained ground in the overseas TV series industry, with various media-service platforms, including the US’s Netflix and HBO and South Korea’s MBC, picking them up. For example, Netflix in November 2017 purchased the Chinese web TV series Day and Night, which follows its purchase in 2015 of the Chinese drama Legend of Zhen Huan, which was reedited from a 76-episode series to six episodes and renamed Empresses in the Palace, Global Times reported.

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

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