Recent national curbs on actors’ paychecks seem to be making it cheaper to produce video content.
Gong Yu, CEO of Chinese online video platform iQiyi, revealed that top celebrities were getting paid no more than 50 million yuan ($7.43 million) per TV series produced by independent online platforms, during an earnings call on Friday.
That’s a major drop from the 150 million yuan per series stars were commanding back in August, meaning that it’s now significantly cheaper to produce original content, Gong said.
Following a major tax-evasion scandal last fall, China’s media regulators imposed new limits on cast pay to less than 40% of total production costs and individual actors’ paychecks to no more than 70% of all money paid to cast members. The rules didn’t specify an income ceiling, although Gong’s words suggest there might be one.
Gong also said the cost of buying the rights to an average TV episode had dropped from over 15 million yuan to less than 8 million yuan.
According to Gong, the impact of new industry payment standards might take a while to show up on producers’ fiscal reports, as some shows are still being broadcasted on TV or in production, meaning it could take up to 12 months for them to land video platforms.