Tencent’s Various Products Are Increasing Investment in Short Dramas

Tech Planet exclusively learned that China Literature Limited will launch the ‘Miracle Short Drama’ platform, which will become the playback channel for China Literature‘s short dramas in the future. As an independent short drama playback application, Miracle Short Drama is currently in the internal testing phase but has already been filed with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in December last year. The filing entity for ‘Miracle Short Drama’ is Beijing Tianjin Digital Technology Development Co., Ltd., which is also the operating entity of China Literature‘s tingbook.com.

Regarding the above message, Tech Planet has sought verification from China Literature Limited. As of press time, there has been no response from the other party.

Tencent ecosystem is ramping up short dramas, not only China Literature Limited. Tech Planet also discovered that by using WeChat’s search function, after searching for the keyword ‘short drama’, a aggregated interface of multiple platform short dramas will appear for users to choose from.

In addition, Tencent‘s Weishi under Tencent Video also laid out short dramas at the beginning of this year. In February, it joined forces with QQ Short Video and Tencent Content Open Platform to start investing heavily in short dramas.

Tencent is eyeing the huge cake of the short drama market. According to the ‘2023 Short Drama Industry Research Report,’ in 2023, the scale of the short drama market reached 373.9 billion, and it is expected to exceed 500 billion in 2024; in the first eight months of 2023, there were a total of 3574 micro-short dramas filed for shooting nationwide.

Not only Tencent, during the New Year period, internet giants such as Douyin and Kuaishou are also frequently active in the short video field, collaborating with top MCNs. Douyin even invited Stephen Chow to create the ‘9527’ theater.

China Literature Limited creates independent short drama products, and sets up a short drama section on WeChat Microvision.

Tech Planet learned that at the beginning of last year, China Literature Limited created a short drama playback mini-program on the China Literature distribution platform. By mid-last year, some business departments of China Literature began to explore short drama products, including ‘Miracle Short Drama.’ It is reported that this product was already developed in September and completed the product record filing with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in December. Currently, this product is in the internal improvement stage and may be launched soon.

Currently, within the main interfaces of China Literature Limited’s two flagship products ‘QQ Reading’ and ‘Qidian’, there is still no functionality for short dramas, with novels and audiobooks remaining the main focus.

An operator from China Literature Limited told Tech Planet, ‘Miracle Short Drama’ should be a trial product of China Literature to explore the commercial value and development in the short drama market. Through this emerging content form, it aims to enhance brand communication and sales conversion effectively. With the help of its own traffic and intellectual property (IP), it may become another source of revenue for them. Short dramas have great traffic and monetization potential. The person also mentioned that there might be other departments developing similar products like ‘Miracle Short Drama’ to diversify across various channels and reach target users.

In addition to China Literature Limited, in the past six months, Tencent‘s WeChat and Weishi have also been increasing their investment in short drama business in various forms.

In the search results interface of WeChat’s ‘Search’ feature, searching for keywords such as ‘short drama’ will display a special section for short dramas. Clicking on the ‘More’ button within this section will show all the content of short dramas, along with multiple category terms like ‘sweet’, ‘hot blood’, and ‘fantasy’.

In addition, the special zone also displays the covers and genres of various short dramas. By clicking on the cover, you can jump to the corresponding short drama playback mini-program. These short dramas are mostly composed of third-party short drama mini-programs, and the special zone has become an important traffic entrance for these short dramas.

In 2021, Tencent Weishi, which was merged into Tencent Video, has not made significant breakthroughs in the short video field. It has also started to make an impact on short dramas and launched a special section for short dramas within the app.

Product analysts believe that since Weishi was integrated into Tencent Video, it has always served as a supplement to Tencent Video in the short video field. However, with the dominance of the two giants Douyin and Kuaishou in the short video market already established, taking advantage of the trend of short dramas and leveraging Tencent Video’s resources have given Weishi another opportunity. Weishi has become a bridgehead for Tencent Video in the short drama battlefield.

According to the creator of Weishi, there is a special section for short dramas within the app. The content created by short drama creators can not only be showcased in this section for more exposure and traffic but also receive specialized operational support provided by Weishi platform. In terms of commercial rights, high-quality short drama creators are granted special benefits such as shared advertising revenue and ad revenue sharing, combining various monetization models.

SEE ALSO: China Literature Plans to Acquire Tencent Animation and Comics’ Related Businesses and IP Assets

Product ‘hardware’ acceleration layout, content ecosystem follow-up.

If we consider functionality and products as the ‘hardware’ of Tencent‘s presence in the short video field, then investment and the ecosystem of short video content are the ‘software’ of Tencent‘s short videos.

Since December last year, China Literature Limited has been active in short drama investment and content ecology.

First, China Literature Limited spent 600 million yuan to acquire the core assets of Tencent Animation, including Tencent Animation App platform, its intellectual property rights and related rights, animation and film projects, and other related business and IP assets.

First, China Literature Limited spent 600 million yuan to acquire the core assets of Tencent Animation, including Tencent Animation App platform, its intellectual property rights and related rights, animation and film projects, and other related business and IP assets.

This move not only expands China Literature Limited’s short drama content IP library, but also creates related film and television works through animated IPs. Before being acquired by Tencent Animation, it released the short drama ‘A Mountain at the Beginning’ adapted from the manga of the same name, as well as fan-generated vertical screen short dramas based on the ‘THE OUTCAST’ IP.

In the same month of December, China Literature Limited launched the ‘Short Drama Galaxy Incubation Plan,’ introducing three major business initiatives: a plan to cultivate hundreds of IPs, support from a billion-dollar creation fund, and exploration of interactive short dramas, building a short drama content ecosystem.

Later, China Literature Limited accelerated the production of short dramas and adapted their IPs into short dramas. In January this year, China Literature‘s high-quality short drama ‘The Dragon Emperor’ generated over tens of millions in revenue within 72 hours.

Following that, China Literature Limited once again ventured into the new interactive short drama track. On January 15th, the teaser trailer for the interactive short drama ‘Spy Shadow’ jointly produced by China Literature Limited, Altstory Technology, Shanghai Film Infinity and Shanghai Film Production was first revealed. It is reported that this work is also the first dual interactive form in the field of interactive short dramas and is expected to be launched online later this year.

An employee from China Literature Limited’s IP business line told Tech Planet that there are multiple short drama plans internally, including the plan to adapt top IPs into short dramas in order to expand their presence in the short drama market.

Prior to China Literature Limited’s layout of short dramas, Tencent Video has already tasted the sweetness. Tencent Video’s micro-drama ‘Provocation’ in 2023 has accumulated a revenue share exceeding 20 million, making it the highest revenue-sharing short drama. In addition, Tencent Video’s ‘Blind Hearted Heiress’ has a revenue share of 17 million.

Tencent Video has recently launched a new short drama project. Its subsidiary Tencent Weishi, in collaboration with QQ Short Video and Tencent Content Open Platform, initiated a recruitment plan for high-quality short drama creators this month. The recruitment plan is open to film and television companies, short drama MCNs, film and television production agencies, as well as individual creators.

The program offers various cooperation methods, such as traffic incentives and revenue incentives. Depending on the quality and popularity of the short film content, a single short film can receive up to 10 million traffic support. Creators who upload copyrighted short film content can enjoy a playback unit price of 30-50 yuan per ten thousand views. This is also Tencent Video’s more extensive content support plan following the launch of the “Mars Plan” in 2021.

Tencent‘s another major short drama platform, WeChat, also released the ‘WeShort Drama Mini Program Advertising Incentive Policy’ in October last year, providing additional advertising funds to developers who meet the relevant conditions for advertising on the WeShort Drama Mini Program.

A developer working on short video mini-programs at Tencent told Tech Planet that under this policy, developers can receive advertising revenue. After recharging the advertising account, the platform will restrict the use of this advertising revenue to promote mini-programs in the micro-short video category, effectively helping their own short video mini-program to be promoted within WeChat. Currently, with incentives from the WeChat platform, their short video mini-program has generated a monthly revenue of up to 400,000 RMB.

Tencent is focusing on short dramas, can it break through the encirclement of Douyin and Kuaishou?

In fact, not only Tencent, but also players who invest heavily in short dramas include Douyin and Kuaishou.

Last year, Douyin and Kuaishou respectively launched short drama apps ‘Hongguo Short Drama’ and ‘Xifan’, creating independent channels for short dramas. From the data perspective, the popularity of these two short drama products is continuously increasing.

According to data from Qimai, the average estimated daily downloads of “Xifan” in the past 30 days exceeded 160,000 times, while the average estimated daily downloads of “Hongguo Short Drama” on iOS in the past 30 days exceeded 60,000 times. The daily download volumes of both apps exceed those of top domestic apps and are showing an upward trend.

In addition, Douyin released the ‘Chenxing Plan’ in January this year, targeting film and television companies, media agencies, MCN organizations, and individual creators. It announced that it will provide funding and traffic support for high-quality micro-drama series. Douyin also released data on micro-dramas: the number of users actively searching for micro-dramas on Douyin has doubled daily; there are 500 micro-drama series with over a billion views each, with 12 of them surpassing 10 billion views; and the daily viewing volume of micro-dramas has doubled.

In January of this year, Kuaishou held a short drama ecosystem conference. Official data shows that the daily active users (DAU) of Kuaishou’s short dramas reached 270 million in 2023, with the number of heavy micro-drama viewers watching more than 10 episodes per day reaching 94 million, a year-on-year increase of 52.6%. In terms of creator ecosystem, by the end of 2023, the number of short drama creators on the Kuaishou platform has exceeded 100,000.

Kuaishou will also upgrade its previous Starlight Short Drama Plan. Yu Ke, head of the Drama Business Center of Kuaishou’s Entertainment Business Department, said, ‘In 2024, Kuaishou will upgrade the Starlight Short Drama to help creators achieve lower thresholds, more stable income, and higher revenue sharing levels. Starting from the first quarter of this year, Kuaishou’s short drama plan will open up content introduction across the entire network and embrace diversified content; continue to provide efficient product capabilities and marketing distribution systems while investing billions in traffic and hundreds of millions in cash to support traffic short dramas.’

A producer who creates short dramas on Douyin expressed that Douyin and Kuaishou have gradually become the top tier for domestic short dramas. By integrating short dramas into their platforms and recommending them to users based on their follow lists and interests, Douyin and Kuaishou can encourage users to share and discuss the content, helping it spread further.

Compared to Douyin and Kuaishou, Tencent‘s advantage in making short dramas lies in its traffic and intellectual property (IP) resources. With a wealth of high-quality IPs in hand, Tencent, although a latecomer, also has the opportunity to surpass Douyin and Kuaishou.

As of now, the various platforms under Tencent are still in the stage of catching up and have not yet formed a mature short video ecosystem. The competition among different players is intense, and it remains to be seen whether Tencent can break through in the short video market, which will require time for verification.

SEE ALSO: Tencent-Backed Digital Content Firm China Literature Publishes Financial Report, Showing Rebound from Rocky 2020