Subscribe to our newsletter

     By signing up, you agree to our Terms Of Use.


    • About Us
    • |
    • Contribute
    • |
    • Contact Us
    • |
    • Sitemap

    Bilibili Bets Big on Booming Ultrashort Drama Market

    The Chinese streaming platform has announced plans to release 20 “premium” ultrashort dramas this year, as the genre continues to move into the mainstream.

    Chinese streaming platform Bilibili has announced a major push into ultrashort dramas, as the once-niche genre continues its rapid move into the mainstream.

    Ultrashort dramas — soap opera-style TV series divided into episodes lasting just a few minutes each — have exploded in popularity in China over the past couple of years, with the market estimated to be worth 37.4 billion yuan ($5.15 billion) in 2023.

    The shows have divided opinion — with critics and regulators criticizing their often-shoddy production values and crass, melodramatic content — but their massive ratings are starting to attract the attention of China’s media giants and state authorities.

    Bilibili first became associated with ultrashort dramas last year after the release of the miniseries “Escape From the British Museum” on the platform. The show — produced by a Bilibili-backed creator — became a viral hit after tapping into public anger about the large collection of Chinese relics housed inside the British Museum.

    Now, the streamer appears to be looking to build on that success, announcing on Tuesday that it plans to produce 20 “premium” ultrashort dramas this year.

    The 20 series will cover a wide range of topics and genres, according to the platform. This includes a show dealing with China’s mental health crisis and a drama about a duo striving to protect Shanghai’s historic buildings.

    At the launch, Bilibili executives stressed that the company planned to focus on “premium” content — a possible attempt to separate the new shows from the growing controversy surrounding ultrashort dramas in China over recent months.

    Despite the market’s breakneck growth, ultrashort dramas are facing pressure from several angles. Complaints about plagiarism and obscene content in the industry have grown, which led regulators to introduce a far tighter approval system for new microdramas in April.

    “We observe strong demand for quality drama among users in the current market,” said Hu Hong, general manager of Bilibili’s film division.

    At the same event, Bilibili also announced a second scheme designed to support the production of quality miniseries, with the company announcing it would provide creators with funding, production guidance, and operational support.

    Bilibili’s strategy aligns with recent trends in the ultrashort drama market. The space is rapidly maturing, as large media companies increasingly move in and bring with them a more cautious approach to content production and regulatory compliance.

    Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, unveiled plans in January to support the production of ultrashort dramas that reflect everyday life and promote traditional culture and local tourism.

    A month earlier, the state-owned media conglomerate Hunan TV broadcast an ultrashort drama on its television for the first time. The series, which the company co-produced, tells the story of a couple in ancient China investigating the cause of a mysterious illness.

    The Chinese government is also increasingly seeking to take advantage of ultrashort dramas for publicity purposes. In January, China’s top media regulator tasked local authorities with incorporating local culture and tourist destinations into “key” ultrashort drama projects.

    Some local authorities have released ultrashort dramas via their own social media channels in recent months. They include the local health commission of the southern metropolis of Shenzhen, which attracted attention in May by using an ultrashort drama to popularize medical knowledge.

    (Header image: IC)