After exploring for a period of time, at the beginning of this year, Chen Ning’s company gave up the short drama business. The reasons behind it are complicated. He feels that since the skit has become an outlet, the market is still speculating on the concept, and no one has run through the commercialization path. This somewhat illustrates a certain problem.
If you trace the origin of the skit, you may have to start with “Unexpectedly” in 2013. At that time, Douyin had not yet been born, and Kuaishou had not been out of the circle. “Unexpectedly” is defined as a mini comedy, but from the perspective of the content of the series, “Unexpectedly” also has the characteristics of today’s “mini-short drama”: 15 episodes per season, 5 minutes per episode, compact plot , The net is full, the pain points and the laugh points are intensive.
The early short dramas were mainly played in the horizontal screen mode of UAT. In the past two years, with the development of short videos, the short dramas have naturally grown in the short video ecology.
According to the “2020 China Internet Audiovisual Development Research Report” released on October 12 last year, short video users have reached 818 million, and the average daily short video product use time is 110 minutes. When the short video traffic dividend is about to peak, the content mode of short dramas has become a new direction for platforms to compete for user duration.
From mid-2019 to the present, Chen Ning has felt the tremendous changes in the skit industry, “No matter whether it is the production system or the budget, it is no longer the same.” At the same time, after a period of barbaric growth, regulatory forces also began to intervene.
At the end of last year, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television added the category of “Internet short dramas” to the key online film and television drama information filing system. This category stipulates that the web short drama is a web drama with a single episode of no more than 10 minutes. This means that the “micro short drama” has been named and qualitative, and the market has formed a larger scale and has been brought into supervision.
A few days ago, Kuaishou and Douyin have held short play press conferences, and each published their transcripts. Douyin said that during the “New Fan Project 1.0” period, 110 MCN agencies and more than 1,400 Douyin creators participated, and a total of short play works have been registered. There are more than 5,000 units. Kuaishou announced that more than 20,000 skits have been included, of which over 12.5 percent of the episodes are over 100 million. Kuaishou users watch more than 210 million skits per day, and the total user viewing time has reached 35 million hours.
Various dimensions of data are prosperous, but behind the data, the skit is still in the early stage of being “defined”. Whether the platform, producers, and actors can achieve unification of interests in this process determines how big the entire industry can ultimately be. .
“Kaishou Little Theater” page “I want it to fire, but I also want it not to fire” The most obvious advantage of the skit is undoubtedly the “short and fast”. Compared with TV series and movies with high investment and unstable income, the lower cost and faster feedback of skits are the main reasons why traditional film and television companies favor it. At first, many companies made their first pot of gold in this blue ocean, but they were quickly hit. “When we started to do it in mid-2019, the cycle was very short, because it only needed to be reviewed by the platform, the production budget was also very cheap, and one episode could be controlled at 10,000 yuan.” Chen Ning told Sohu Technology, with the help of Douyin and Kuaishou. With the intervention of traditional video platforms, the budget of each video soared to 500,000 yuan in just two years. Costs are rising, but the business path is still immature, and many companies that enter the game later have begun to wait and see. At present, the business models of short dramas explored by all parties in the industry are mainly divided into three types: accounting, advertising and e-commerce. Let’s first look at the relatively popular split-accounting model in recent years. Before the short drama, in 2015, iQiyi first launched the “net big share account”. At present, long video platforms have generally begun to use this commercialization method. Different platforms have different accounting rules. iQiyi adopts content sharing, marketing sharing and advertising sharing, while Tencent Video and Youku only adopt content sharing. According to the effective viewing time of paying users, it is a kind of benign income model to make the big works of online drama and network directly face the C-end users, which will force the film party to be responsible for the quality of the content. There have been many high-income cases in online drama splitting. In 2016, “The Demon Out of Changan” with a production cost of only 4.5 million made more than 20 million in revenue, and the return on investment ratio reached 1:4.5; in 2017, the revenue of “The Chef of the Flower Pot” has exceeded 72 million in two years. Of course, as the industry passes through the initial stage of volume, the good days of relying on platform subsidies and account sharing will not last long. The producers of the skits asked by Sohu Technology all stated that “you can’t make much money by splitting the accounts.” At present, both Kuaishou and Douyin have avoided discussing the proportion of revenue sharing. Previously, the person in charge of Kuaishou short drama pointed out to the media, “Because of the lack of subsequent monetization channels, long dramas can only rely on a mode of sharing accounts. The special form of the video allows it to be monetized even if there is no account split. The monetization mode other than the account split is rapidly completing the video, and the follow-up will become heavier and heavier.” From the attitude of the platform, it is difficult for the account split to become the main film party. Source of income. The so-called “special form of short video” enables advertising customization and e-commerce to be applied more flexibly in the ecosystem. For example, in terms of advertising, Kuaishou and Wanglaoji’s “Auspicious Theater” have launched two short dramas “Niu XIII” and “My Contract Boyfriend” with over 100 million broadcasts. However, due to the unclear prospects of the short dramas, many advertisers are still cautious about the placement of most of the short dramas. “Everything depends on whether there are customers who want to place an order.” An insider of Happy Twist told Sohu Technology that although the short drama is a new direction for Happy Twist, the internal promotion is very slow. On the one hand, the current production process of the short drama It’s not much easier than a long drama. On the other hand, it’s not easy to find content that meets customer needs. “Of course we want to make our own IP, but there is no content at the moment.” Wang Yaou, general manager of Happy Twist Marketing Center, once said in an interview with Dongxi Cultural Entertainment: “The short play is very short, but how to balance the quality of the content and the commercial value of the brand is not easy at all. Moreover, this is a new field. How the content party and the platform party sign a commercial contract, how to determine the terms, how to sign, how to commercialize, how to share profits, there is no mature template, everything needs to be explored.” From advertisers to producers, everyone is still experimenting on their own. Although there have been many excellent cases of customized advertising dramas, it remains to be seen whether advertisers will continue to launch them. In addition to commercialization, film producers are also facing more and more difficulties in the production process. The first to bear the brunt is the gradual lengthening of the cycle. “Timeliness is the number one advantage of the short drama. It was originally possible to make two dramas a month, but now that the supervision is involved, the time period from production to launch is hard to say.” Chen Ning said, when the short drama is the biggest After the time advantage is gradually compressed, the future space will not be particularly large. Secondly, the “short, flat and fast” feature of the short drama has its own advantages, but correspondingly, this has also increased the pressure on the filmmakers to grasp the time window. “When we were making a short drama, we wanted it to be popular but also not to be popular,” Chen Ning described the mentality of the film party in this way, “If it is not popular, we can make new ones, but if it is popular, according to The time for the flow of the skit to ferment, you must keep up with the second one within half a month to take advantage of the heat, otherwise it will be cold after a month. Can this time-sensitive production team keep up?” Finally, compared to web dramas and movies, short dramas are more centered on actors, that is, dramas serve people rather than people support dramas. From this perspective, Douyin Kuaishou’s skits are not based on “content” and rely on “content” to do business, but more for the purpose of “establishing people.” “One of the problems this brings is that if the sequel is filmed, the core male and female actors must not be changed, and the actors may sit down and raise prices.” Chen Ning said. “Personal” business The effect of “Establishing People” through the skit is remarkable. Take “Yuer” as an example. Its masterpiece “This Lord I Want to Return” has accumulated 350 million views in Kuaishou, and a single drama has gained more than 2 million fans; while Kuaishou’s first major short drama “This Male Lead Is A Little Cold” The heroine of “A Great Friend of Lu” also gained 5 million fans through the show. The super strong ability to attract fans in a short period of time has made the skit more possibilities on the commercial link. “The Kuaishou skit itself still relies on the business model of the Kuaishou platform, so we will be more based on the commercialization of the entire platform to empower. We monitored part of the more interesting link is that the 5 million fans of “Yi Lu” directly In order to become a trusted fan of her e-commerce business, her GMV conversion of her e-commerce company has increased by about 60 times. This is a very surprising number. Therefore, our important direction in the second half of this year is to deeply integrate the short drama with the e-commerce company.” Kuaishou The person in charge of the skit said. Chen Ning also believes that e-commerce will most likely become the main monetization method for skits in the future. “In fact, if MCN or individuals want to do Douyin or Kuaishou accounts, the initial investment in maintaining accounts is mainly to buy traffic and increase fans. The short drama is a way to reduce the initial investment time. For example, a drama is rated as A-level, and the platform gives 3000 With more than 10,000 traffic support, it may increase by 1 million fans in a short period of time, but if you raise your account to 1 million, it will take at least half a year to a year.” In other words, the skit is more like a “medium” to increase fans. Through the story of the skit, users can follow the core actors to increase their stickiness. After the skit ends, the actors return to the anchor status and use private domain traffic to bring goods. This can also explain why Kuaishou, which has stronger private domain traffic and a more complete e-commerce ecology, can be ahead of Douyin in the field of skits. But hidden dangers also exist. From the perspective of content, the essence of skits is “net-sensing cool dramas”. This type of content has limited reputation and influence, and the quality of the content is directly proportional to the life cycle. This makes the skits have a short life cycle and requires continuous delivery of new points and new ideas. Stories to satisfy users. Therefore, the realization of the IP of a short drama itself cannot be extended into an ecology like a long film and television drama. In response to this, the person in charge of the Kuaishou skit responded, “Under the environment of trial and error, the influence of a hit can last for a year. It is considered good. After all, it is related to the input-output ratio. The cost of brainpower is definitely not comparable to a short drama, and the influence of the former’s subsequent IP ecology will inevitably last for more than ten years.” According to Kuaishou’s thinking, the skit is more suitable for tapping people’s IP value and people’s e-commerce. In addition, for the artists, the short drama does provide them with a way out. For example, the vast majority of trainees who have not debuted on domestic talent shows, due to the lack of a comprehensive audition system in China, a large number of trainees lack opportunities to show up, and short plays provide them with a low-cost stage. Faced with such a big cake, many traditional artist agency companies have come to an end one after another. For example, Jiaxing Media, which participated in the production of “Sansheng III Shili Peach Blossom”, launched its self-made short drama “The Other Half of Me and You” on Youku for the first time; Yin United produced a short drama “Don’t be afraid, fall in love!” “; Happy Twist has also reached cooperation with Kuaishou and Haojiao at the same time, and has output multiple skits. Many people in the industry believe that although the number of micro-short dramas is often hundreds of millions, there are still no real works out of the circle, and there is no short video version of “Unexpectedly”. However, “whether or not it is out of the circle” seems to be irrelevant now. The role played by the film and television works incubated in the short video era has been rewritten, the tool attribute has come to the front, and the content itself has retreated to the second line. This may be the short drama in the present. The biggest change brought to the industry. (At the request of the interviewee, Chen Ning is a pseudonym)
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