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Rising importance of Weibo to TV dramas

Martin Guo

Editor-in-Chief, Kantar China Insights

TV & Movie 09.10.2017 / 11:10

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More than 70% of new TV dramas partnered with Weibo in the first half of this year. The top 30 TV dramas accounted for 93% of all TV drama-related Weibo impressions. Huge Weibo fan bases also unlocked more revenue opportunities for TV dramas.

CSM Media Research recently published its “2017 Weibo TV Development Report”. By combining CSM’s official TV ratings with Weibo TV Index data jointly created by Weibo and CSM, the report showed that Weibo has become the most important marketing and promotion platform for video contents, including traditional TV stations and online video websites. In the first half of this year, China Central TV Station and provincial satellite TV channels launched a total of 120 new TV dramas, and 67% partnered with Weibo. At the same time, Chinese video websites launched 185 online TV dramas with 73% of them working with Weibo.

On the other hand, the growing importance of Weibo has also changed TV drama industry. Social media has become the most popular platform where fans discuss TV programmes: 22% of Weibo users are talking about TV and video programmes. Among them, 17% were talking about variety programmes while 15% discussing TV dramas.

Winner takes it all

In the first half of this year, 18 TV dramas, or only 3.6% of all new TV dramas shown on traditional TV channels, surpassed a national TV rating of 1%, according to CSM. It is clear that very few number of TV dramas can get massive attention.

At the same time, top TV dramas are taking an increasingly bigger share of attention on Weibo as well.

Top 30 most-watched TV dramas accounted for 93% of all TV drama-rated Weibo impressions in the first half of 2017, much higher than 45% in the first half of 2015.



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If we narrow down to top 3 TV dramas, the corresponding TV audience scale has increased to 838 million in the first half of 2017 from 628 million in first half of 2015. The growth is much bigger in their Weibo impression: it jumped to 47.27 billion in first half of 2017 from 2.46 billion in first half of 2015. Their share of TV drama-related Weibo impression also jumped to 42% in first half of 2017 from 5% in first half of 2015.



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Social buzz opens new biz

Advertising and broadcast right licensing are the two most common business models of TV drama business. However, as the industry evolves, production organizations are also eagerly exploring new business models to create extra revenue sources. Franchising is already an important revenue source for animations and movie industries. Now with strong TV ratings and newly found huge fan base on Weibo, publishers of hot TV dramas have found promising land in franchising as well.

* Advertising: “Ode to Joy Season II” (《欢乐颂2》) signed product placement agreement with popular snack nuts brand Three Squirrels and Chinese cosmetics brand Herborist;

* Broadcast right licensing: “The First Half of My Life” (《我的前半生》) sold its traditional TV right licensing to Beijing Satellite TV and Shanghai’s Dragon TV (nationwide satellite channel) and its online TV right licencing to iQiyi, Tencent Video and YouKu;

* Franchise gaming: This year’s popular TV dramas, including Fighter of the Destiny (《择天记》), Princess Agents (《楚乔传》), and Lost Love in Times (《醉玲珑》) have all rolled out mobile phone games based on their TV drama contents;

* Franchise products: The producer of “Eternal Love” (《三生三世十里桃花) worked with a liquor company to launch similarly named liquors with more than 30 million yuan sales. OPPPO banked on the popularity of “Noble Aspirations” (《青云志》) to launch customized smartphones based on its imagines and story.

Leveraging TV sponsorship through strong Weibo exposure

“Ode to Joy Season II” was shown on Dragon TV and Zhejiang Satellite TV and managed to maintain its popularity from Season I. The highest nationwide TV rating hit 1.49% and during its airing period, it was always the most popular TV show of the day on Weibo. It accumulated 13.37 billion impression on Weibo.

Yili pure milk bought TV ad on Zhejiang Satellite TV to go with the show. The brand’s reach kept climbing as the show got more popular – from 28.96 million on May 15 to 76.09 million on June 7. The brand also launched Weibo campaign to leverage the popularity of the TV show. The hashtag #欢乐颂2# (Ode to Joy 2) with Yili’s brand logo hit an impression of 6.8 billion and more than 4.46 million people joined brand-sponsored discussions. Besides, other six brands which had bought advertising connected to the show also launched campaign on Weibo. The outcome was excellent both on Weibo and traditional TV.

欢乐颂2与伊利广告到达率 Full

Summary:

* Weibo has become the most important social promotional platform for TV and video contents. It is now pivotal in potential content filtering, production, live broadcasting and other stages of TV drama production. At the marketing and promotion stage for TV dramas, Weibo has become the most important social platform;

* More types of programmes are working closer with Weibo. In 2017, there are more traditional TV programmes and online video programmes. Most of them have forged closer partnership with Weibo. Popular TV programmes are dominant in attracting attention through TV screens, and now their influence has extended to Weibo;

* Outside factors have far-reaching influences on Weibo as well. Chinese government policies are encouraging the convergence of media and production of excellent contents. Bigger share of audiences are consuming video contents across multiple platforms. The competition of audiences has extended to across old and new media. But at the same time, the advent of livestreaming, AR and voice recognition technologies has also created cooperation opportunities across media and hence unlocking the potential of lifting cross-media marketing effect to a higher level;

* Call for new marketing and monetization models. As top-notch video programmes, such as big TV dramas and reality shows, reaped most of audience attention, new comers are facing an uphill battle to stand out quickly and swiftly recruit massive followers. At the same time, TV programme producers are also looking for new sizable revenue source beyond advertising and TV right licensing. If a TV programme can accumulate big follower base, it will bear value as a source of derivative products. Weibo becomes an ideal answer for both challenges;

* The convergence of media is the only way forward. As one of the most important social promotion platforms, Weibo will be the main drivers for audience engagement, driving traffic to broadcasting platforms, and an important pillar in brand cross-media campaigns.

Source: CSM

Editor's notes

* To know more information, data and analysis of TV and TV Weibo Index, please contact us.

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