About 725 million internet users in China, or 87.5 percent of the total online population, watched online videos in 2018, while more than 230 million users have paid for membership of Chinese online video platforms, according to a report released on June 11 at the Internet Summit in Shanghai.
"The online audio visual industry is flourishing in the country, with more and more audio visual products of increasingly high quality being created," said Cui Chenghao, deputy Party secretary of the research center of the National Radio and Television Administration, during the summit.
Cui, who is also the deputy editor of the report, points out that major online video platforms in China, including Tencent platform iQiyi, have been pouring capital into the production of original content and the quality of most works have reached a level that is comparable to those produced by broadcasting companies.
"For instance, most original online shows no longer depend solely on the star factor of famous personalities. More and more new actors are appearing in these programs," he says.
Cui also claims that technological advancements have been driving growth in the online media market since 2018 when technology such as 4K (ultra-high definition) and 8K resolution as well as virtual reality started becoming more prevalent in the industry.
According to a joint survey conducted by the research center at the administration, the Center of Shanghai International Film and TV Festival and the audiovisual communication research center at Peking University, about 1,500 films were screened exclusively online in 2018, a drop from 2,400 in 2016.
The drop is partly a result of the rising budgets for online movies, which as the survey also shows, have grown a hundredfold, surging from several hundred thousand yuan in 2015 to tens of millions of yuan in 2018.
"We hope to see the quality of films continue to improve as more budget is allocated to such projects," says Lu Di, director of the research center at Peking University.
Ma Zhongjun, founder of Shanghai-based Ciwen Media and a Chinese playwright, stated at the summit that some key elements of quality online works are innovation, either in characters or plots, and a smooth and rigorous film production process ranging from the choice of scripts to the completion of a film.
Ye Ning, vice-president of Huayi Brothers Media Group, says an excellent film should resonate with the audience, evoke emotions and create a new world in the viewer's mind.