Chinese mini-series are gaining increasing popularity on major social media platforms. For instance, on TikTok, the hashtag #TikTokSeries has reached an impressive 9.2 billion views, while the topic # the mini-series has surpassed 634 million views in the United States alone.

According to statistics, the Chinese mini-series market reached 37.39 billion yuan in 2023, a year-on-year increase of 267.65%. It is expected to exceed 50 billion yuan in 2024. The mini-series market holds tremendous potential and prospects both in China and other international markets.

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What are mini-series?

mini-series are typically web series with individual episodes lasting less than 10 minutes. Most scripts are either original or adapted from online literary novels. They are brief in each episode’s duration but numerous in total length. 

They are primarily distributed in a vertical format on mobile. 4 categories of Chinese social media platforms are releasing mini-series: video clip platforms (such as TikTok, and Kwai),  video-sharing platforms (such as Tencent Video, and Youku), mini-program platforms (WeChat mini-programs), and apps.

what are mini-series?

1. Rise of mini-series in the Chinese market

Since 2017, mini-series, propelled by the rapid development of short videos, have introduced a new content format known as “portrait mini-series.” Some successful mini-series works have gradually entered the public eye. With the growth of the mini-series market, mini-series have evolved from being “a subtype of video clips ” to becoming a unique market. 

The entire mini-series market is moving towards standardization, even approaching the standards of TV series production. Many mainstream film and television companies, such as Huayi Brothers, and even renowned director Stephen Chow, have joined the mini-series race.

2. Mini-series in the international market

In 2019, as the Chinese mini-series market began to grow rapidly, attention was also turned towards the international market where the question “What is a mini-series?” still lingered. And this is a truly untapped market. Major Chinese mini-series brands have gradually occupied markets in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Europe, and other regions in recent years. 

Multi-language subtitles have been added to their channels on YouTube, and some brands even use AI for dubbing in corresponding languages. The main platforms for broadcasting mini-series in the international market are major social media platforms or dedicated mini-series apps, such as ReelShort and GoodShort.

Why Mini-series go viral on Chinese social media platforms?

1. Exaggerated Content, liked by Social media

Mini-series are “dramatic” in plot, especially in romance-themed mini-series, many exaggerated plots provide the audience with stimulating experiences. However, there are great cultural differences in the plot of the mini-series. For example, some mini-series that are very popular in the Chinese market may not resonate with American audiences at all.

Popular character settings in mini-series vary from country to country. For example, in the United States, werewolves and vampire themes are quite popular. On ReelShort, two related mini-series, “Fated To My Forbidden Alpha” and “Never Divorce a Secret Billionaire Heiress,” have gone viral as a result.

Mini-series made in USA

2. Social Media Marketing: Traffic is the Key

The success and exposure of mini-dramas depend heavily on effective marketing strategies. How production companies accurately push their content to target audiences is crucial.

For digital marketing advertisers, they need to establish effective connections between the content and users. For editors, turning a mini-series into interesting and engaging clips that gain audience’ curiosity is a challenging task.

3. Low Cost, High Returns

The threshold for producing mini-series is low, and the cost is much lower than that of long video series. Some mini-series are free to watch and monetize through advertising traffic. Some mini-series adopt a pay-per-episode model. International mini-series apps generally allow users to recharge and exchange virtual currency while watching, which can be used to unlock subsequent episodes.

For example, recharging 100 “gold beans” costs $4.99, and 20 “gold beans” can unlock one episode. Users may impulsively exchange a large amount of “gold beans” while watching without much thought. In July 2023, ReelShort had a total download of 1.9 million on Google Play and the App Store, with a monthly revenue of $6 million.

International mini-series platforms

Mini-series: Current State & Future

1. Competition Tightens the Market 

Just like the Pareto principle that applies to almost all industries, not everyone can make money in the mini-series market. Especially now, with the rising production costs of mini-series. Many people see others making millions overnight in the early stages, so they think the barrier to entry for mini-series production is low and start investing heavily in filming. 

According to industry insiders, 90% of the mini-series industry is losing money, considering that the profits need to cover the costs of advertising and the fees charged by platforms. If a mini-series doesn’t go viral in the end, the return on a $1 million investment might only be tens of thousands. Ultimately, it’s the short video platforms that make a fortune.

2. High-Quality Works in Demand

As competition in the mini-series market becomes increasingly fierce, audiences have more choices. Poorly plotted mini-series no longer satisfy viewers’ appetites. Only innovative works can stand out. Innovation and plots are also crucial, as they need to satisfy audiences, keeping the market dynamic.

If you would like to know more about social media marketing strategies in China, please contact us. the STAiiRS team of international digital marketing experts will be glad to answer your questions in detail!