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China Hotbed for New TV Dramas, Per Ampere

LONDON—TNT may be the U.S. network that knows drama, but China has laid its case to be the drama leader of the world with its slate of TV productions. According to new research from Ampere Analysis, the country’s leading broadcasters and OTT services have commissioned nearly 300 new drama series in the last six months.

The Ampere study shows that China is responsible for more than half of the world’s new drama productions, with the genre representing 67% of all upcoming titles. In the U.S., dramas make up just 16% of upcoming titles. This interest in genre is making it the number one commissioned genre worldwide.

However, while drama is the dominant genre, it isn’t alone. Leading up to September 2019, China had 432 upcoming scripted TV commissions; the U.S. had 359 over that same period, while the rest of world in total had 645.

Besides drama, 14% of Chinese commissioned shows fall under romance—similar to other APAC countries. But where international markets often enjoy crime and thriller shows, it only makes up 10% of China’s commissions. There were very few comedy and sci-fi shows greenlit in China over this period.

While most of the shows have been commissioned by Chinese producers, international companies like BBC and Endemol Shine have also entered the market.

Another factor that differentiates China from other markets is that only about 8% of its new shows were commissioned by SVoD services. The U.S., in comparison, had nearly half of its shows commissioned by OTT players. However, because of fragmentation of the market, Chinese SVoD services are still among the most active individual commissioners, but most content is still commissioned by a large number of small, local broadcasters.

In terms of subscribers, Chinese SVoD services are keeping pace with international competitors. Ampere expects iQIYI to reach 116 million subscribers by the end of 2019, while Tencent should hit 108 million subscribers. That would be behind Netflix’s 164 million expected subscribers, but ahead of Amazon’s 91 million. This subscriber growth is expected to increase SVoD’s commissioning activity over the next year, which could also impact the genre preferences of the country.

“The Chinese SVoD services, which have some of the largest subscriber bases in the world and now represent nearly one in 10 new series green-lit in China, echo the global and U.S. TV giants in terms of the genres they are commissioning,” said Richard Cooper, Ampere research director.