70% of Chinese viewers opted for SVOD in first half of 2020: Maoyan

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Maoyan Entertainment, a leading platform providing innovative Internet-empowered entertainment services in China, released a report on China’s TV and web series market for the first half of 2020.

The report shows that during the COVID-19 pandemic, about 74% of respondents paid for platform subscriptions to stream series online, as consumers shifted from offline to online entertainment consumption.

The report examines the TV and web series market landscape, audience entertainment behavior, as well as TV and web series distribution and promotion channels in the first half of 2020.

The report is based on a Maoyan Research Institute market survey conducted at the beginning of July and on market data from entertainment data analysis platform Maoyan Zhiduoxing and other sources.

Market highlights:

  • The TV and web series market gained viewership as people remained at home during the first half of 2020.
  • About 69% of respondents spent more time watching TV and web series in the first half of 2020 than they had in the same period last year. On average, viewers watched five TV and web series over the first half of 2020.
  • Viewers have acclimated to paying for online content. About 74% of respondents said they paid for subscriptions to watch series online during the period.
  • Streaming platform releases grew in the first half of 2020. A total of 137 web series were released in the first half, an increase of 26.9% from 108 titles in the first half of 2019.
  • Long-form video platforms (iQIYI, Tencent Video and Youku) and short-form video platforms (TikTok and Kuaishou) were the main channels for series distribution and promotion.

TV and web series gained viewership

While the movie industry was severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the TV and web series market gained viewership as consumers remained at home in the first half of 2020. A total of 190 TV and web series were released in the first half of 2020, including 53 TV series and 137 web series. According to the report, the overall popularity of new releases in the first half of 2020 was significantly higher than those released in the first half of 2019.

Number of new TV series Number of new web series
H1 2019 73 108
H1 2020 53 137

According to the report, about 69% of respondents spent more time watching TV and web series in the first half of 2020 than they had in the same period last year. On average, viewers watched five TV and web series during the first half of 2020.

Time spent watching series in H1 2020 compared to H1 2019

Percentage of respondents

Significant increase 33%
Slight increase 36%
About the same 18%
Slight decline 10%
Significant decline 3%

Platforms offer both membership subscriptions to access the library of TV and web series, as well as individual purchase options for specific series. According to the report, about 74% of respondents said they paid for a membership subscription, while about 32% of respondents reported having made single payments to watch a series on a platform.

When asked about their preferred spending, about 94% of respondents preferred spending RMB30 or less on a single show. These responses signal that viewers have acclimated to paying for online content, a spur for the industry to create more high-quality content.

Paid for platform membership subscription Percentage of total respondents
Yes 74%
Don’t remember 5%
No 21%
Made single purchases to watch a series online Percentage of total respondents
Yes 32%
Don’t remember 10%
No 59%
Preferred spending on a single show (RMB) Percentage of total respondents
Less than 5 42%
From 6 to 10 26%
From 11 to 20 17%
From 21 to 30 9%
From 31 to 40 0%
From 41 to 50 2%
More than 51 5%

Long-form video platforms (iQIYI, Tencent Video and Youku) and short-form video platforms (TikTok and Kuaishou) were the main sources for TV and web series news and information, followed by WeChat Moments, WeChat official accounts and Weibo.

Sources for series news and information Percentage of total respondents
Long-form video platforms (iQIYI, Tencent Video and Youku) 64%
Short-form video platforms (TikTok and Kuaishou) 43%
WeChat Moments/WeChat official accounts 40%
Weibo 35%
Online ticketing platforms (Maoyan and Taopiaopiao) 34%
Friends/family members discussion 28%
Movie and TV news and information platforms (Douban,

Zhihu)

26%
News and information platforms (Toutiao, The Paper and

36Kr)

14%
Online communities (Baidu Tieba and Hupu) 10%
Music entertainment platforms 9%
Newspapers and Magazines 7%
Advertisements on subway and bus stations 7%
Others 1%

(Respondents were instructed to select all options that apply)

According to the report, suspense and crime, teen, comedy, sci-fi and costume and historical dramas were among the most popular genres of TV and web series in the first half of 2020.

Most popular TV and web series genres in H1 2020 Percentage of respondents
Suspense and crime 55%
Teen 49%
Comedy 49%
Sci-fi 44%
Costume and historical dramas 40%

(Respondents were instructed to select all options that apply)

According to the survey, the top five most important factors respondents consider when selecting a series are good reputation and a high rating score (63%), favorite genres (56%), favorite actors/directors (43%), popularity/high viewing volume (40%) and a good series synopsis (39%).

Factors considered when choosing a series Percentage of total respondents
Good reputation and a high rating score 63%
Favorite genres 56%
Favorite actors/directors 43%
Popularity/high viewing volume 40%
Good series synopsis 39%
Friends/family members recommendations 30%
Attracted by clips of the show posted on short-video

platforms or Weibo

30%
Trailers/a special collection of short videos 28%
Adapted from my favorite IP content 21%
Catchy title 19%
KOLs/WeChat official accounts recommendations 17%
Broadcast/release time 16%
Catchy show poster 11%
Prominent placement on the streaming platform 7%
Random choice 6%
Others 0%

(Respondents were instructed to select all options that apply)

About 86% of respondents usually watch TV and web series alone. When asked about their primary reason for watching TV and web series, about 84% of respondents said for relaxation and entertainment, followed by to kill time (62%), to watch a favorite celebrity (41%), to gain knowledge (30%), and to feel accompanied (26%).

With whom do you usually watch TV and web series? Percentage of total respondents
By myself 86%
Spouse 20%
Friends/colleagues/classmates 16%
Parents 15%
Boyfriend/Girlfriend 12%
Other family members 6%
Children 5%

(Respondents were instructed to select all options that apply)

Reasons for watching TV and web series Percentage of total respondents
For relaxation and entertainment 84%
Kill time 62%
Watch favorite celebrities 41%
Gain knowledge 30%
Feel accompanied 26%
Others 1%

(Respondents were instructed to select all options that apply)

Since online platforms offer adjusted playback speeds, a segment of viewers watch TV and web series at twice the normal speed or above. Survey results show that 32% of respondents watched series at twice the normal playback speed or faster, while 24% fast forward or skip while watching and 15% did not finish a complete series.

According to the survey, about 80% of respondents said they often or sometimes feel unsatisfied with a TV or web series. When asked the main reasons for not enjoying it, about 67% said that they were not interested in the series genre, while 54% said that the series content quality did not meet their expectations.

Reasons for feeling unsatisfied with a TV or web series Percentage of total respondents
Not interested in the genre 67%
Content quality did not meet the expectation 54%
Series is slow to add new episodes 40%
Doesn’t feature favorite actors or celebrities in the

current series

23%

(Respondents were instructed to select all options that apply)

Streaming platforms flourish in the first half of 2020

The Online streaming of series has grown rapidly in the first half of 2020. A total of 137 web series released in the first half of 2020, increased by 26.9% from 108 titles in the first half of 2019.

Among the newly released series in the first half of 2020, about 31% of those available to stream online were released on iQIYI, about 24% were released on Youku, about 22% were released on Tencent Video and about 12% on Mango TV.

Platform Percentage of total new series in H1 2020 available online
iQIYI 31%
Youku 24%
Tencent Video 22%
Mango TV 12%
Others 11%

According to the report, Tencent Video released 24 new titles on the platform exclusively, generating an average of 8,377 Maoyan Overall Trend index, which was higher than other streaming platforms.

Maoyan Overall Trend index is an index that analyzes the popularity of movies and series. It is a multi-dimensional indicator collecting and calculating playback data in real-time from China’s seven leading streaming platforms, including Tencent Video, iQIYI, Youku, Mango TV, TV.Sohu, LETV and PPTV, as well as combining data from social media platforms and analyzing the amount of attention that media gives to related stories.

The resulting numbers do not have a scaled range and keeps updating in real-time. The higher the index, the more popular the title is in the current market.

Number of new series released

exclusively on each platform

Average Maoyan Overall Trend

index

Tencent Video 24 8,377
iQIYI 54 8,353
Mango TV 15 8,296
Youku 36 7,924

Among the top 10 series with the historical highest Maoyan Overall Trend index, four titles were streamed exclusively on the iQIYI platform, three were on Tencent Video platform, and one title was solely streamed on Youku platform.

Top 10 new released series The historical peak of

Maoyan Overall Trend index

Streaming platform
Winter Begonia 9,941 iQIYI
Candle in the Tomb: The Lost Caverns 9,887 Tencent Video
Three Lives Three Worlds 9,866 Tencent Video
The Love Lasts Two Minds 9,854 iQIYI
Ipartment Season 5 9,849 iQIYI
Held in the Lonely Castle 9,828 Tencent Video
Love a Lifetime 9,828 iQIYI and Youku
Love Advanced Customization 9,816 iQIYI, Tencent Video and

Youku

Love Is All 9,797 Youku
The Bad Kids 9,797 iQIYI

While web series were popular in the first half of 2020, the performance of TV series was not as strong. The Urban TV drama “I Will Find You a Better Home,” which aired on Beijing Satellite TV and Dragon Satellite TV, was the only title with a TV rating exceeding 2% in the first half of 2020.

For distribution and promotion of TV and web series, long-form video platforms (iQIYI, Tencent Video and Youku) and short-form video platforms (TikTok and Kuaishou) were the two main channels to promote shows and attract the respondents.

Short-form video platforms experienced an enormous surge in the first half of 2020 and became one of the most important media matrices for promotion and distribution. Clips from TV and web series were often re-created, published and distributed by users on short-form video platforms, receiving hundreds of thousands of likes and comments.

With the resumption of China’s entertainment industry, Maoyan will continue leveraging our own cutting-edge big data capabilities and advantages to explore the market’s growth potential further.

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