Caixin
Apr 14, 2020 08:44 PM
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Chart of the Day: With Cinemas Shut, China’s Video-Streamers Cash In During Epidemic, Report Says

China’s cinema industry has been clobbered by the Covid-19 pandemic, but video-streaming platforms have been doing well by catering to the masses stuck at home, according to a report by an online movie ticketing agency.

The Lunar New Year holiday is usually peak season for China’s cinemas.

In 2019, the share of revenue over the period accounted for 14% of Chinese cinemas’ total annual box office. The report did not mention the year-on-year decline in box office revenue during this year’s Lunar New Year holiday, though considering that theaters were ordered closed nationwide over the period, it was likely nearly 100%.

This year, the domestic theatrical releases of 44 movies had been either canceled or postponed by March 15 due to the outbreak, according to the report by Maoyan Entertainment, which was compiled using data from the company and other sources such as QuestMobile and China’s National Radio and Television Administration.

Some producers gave up theatrical releases for their movies altogether and turned to streaming platforms instead. On Jan. 24, the highly anticipated comedy “Lost in Russia” became the first Chinese movie released online for free on ByteDance’s platforms, including Douyin, the Chinese version of Tiktok. The movie got more than 600 million views in its first three days online.

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Overall, the pandemic led to soaring traffic for streaming platforms, as total users grew to 310 million during this year’s extended 10-day Lunar New Year holiday. According to the report, the total user base grew 7.3% from the seven-day holiday period in 2019.

Across all platforms, users spent an average of 98 minutes a day watching videos during this year’s holiday, the report said. The most-watched shows were medical dramas, comedies, romances, and classic movies and TV dramas, according to the report.

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Nasdaq-listed Bilibili was one of the examples that took advantage of the captive audience to boost its user numbers. According to the report, the platform has effectively grabbed the attention of new users. Users spent almost two hours on average per day on the livestreaming site during this year’s Lunar New Year holiday, more than any of its competitors and 11% longer than during the same period last year.

Contact reporter Isabelle Li (liyi@caixin.com) and editor Michael Bellart (michaelbellart@caixin.com)

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