China’s online audio-visual industry embraces innovative development

A buyer purchases fill light instruments for livestream shows at the China Yiwu Network Broadcast and Short Video Industry Expo held on Sept. 12, 2021. (Photo by Gong Xianming/People's Daily Online)

Online audio-visual industry is currently gathering huge energy for China to boost the cultural sector, develop digital economy and expand domestic demand.

As of June this year, 944 million Chinese watched videos online, including short videos, accounting for 93.4 percent of the country’s total internet users, according to the 48th China Statistical Report on Internet Development released by the China Internet Network Information Center.

In recent years, online audio-visual industry has embraced vigorous development in China. An increasing number of high-quality programs are emerging.

Web series are currently on a virtuous cycle, mirroring social changes and people’s lives, said an annual report on the development of China’s audio-visual new media issued by a research center under the National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA).

Meanwhile, variety shows are releasing more positive energy, while social reality, as well as art and culture have become hot topics of the prospering web documentaries, the report said. Besides, original net animations would become phenomenal every now and then for both the contents and technologies they present.

A series of fine audio and visual programs have been welcomed by Chinese users in recent years, including The City, The People, a radio drama that reels off touching stories happening in the fight against COVID-19 in Wuhan, and docudrama Dunhuang – Edge of the World, which discovers the mysterious history of the city of Dunhuang from a global perspective. A short video introducing the treasures of China’s Tang Dynasty (618-907) has also become phenomenal for bringing relics in a museum “back to life.”

The online audio-visual industry has nurtured multiple business models, including membership, advertising, copy right, live commerce and intellectual property ecology building. According to the NRTA, the industry reported revenue of over 83 billion yuan ($13.03 billion) in paid subscription and copy right services.

“The online audio-visual industry has brought huge changes to the society. It has not only created business opportunities, but also offered various products for people’s cultural life,” said Yin Hong, a professor with the School of Journalism and Communication at Tsinghua University. The industry has offered a strong support for social stability and people’s sense of happiness amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he added.

Short videos portraying rural life are enjoying a high popularity among viewers. Short videos under the hashtag of “recording my rural life” have been played 113.5 billion times on Kuaishou, a short video social platform. Douyin, another popular short video social platform also known as TikTok outside of China, has launched an online activity to encourage short video contents about agriculture, rural areas and farmers, and the activity has achieved total views of 76.7 billion.

Today, more and more people are joining the creation of audio and visual contents, to demonstrate the new image of Chinese farmers and vitalize the countryside via short videos and other media forms.

Audio and visual products of premium quality are not only popular in China. They have also attracted a number of followers overseas and become a window displaying China to the outside world. For instance, Chinese video blogger Li Ziqi has made her name for making videos introducing Chinese rural lifestyles and China’s traditional food culture, and Chinese master carpenter Grandpa Amu also became a hit on overseas social platforms for his skilled use of Chinese mortise and tenon structures.

“I came to know many Chinese video bloggers on Tik Tok and other platforms, where I have learned different customs across China,” said a German surnamed Claus.

The annual report on the development of China’s audio-visual new media analyzed that culture and technology will be a major trend in the online audio-visual industry and serve as an engine driving the industry. AI-powered video synthesis tools, big data video searching systems, holography and other audio and visual technologies will continuously improve the communication efficiency of contents and bring better interactive experiences.

China is making efforts to fully exploit technological innovation, a “key variable,” so as to promote integrated, high-definition and featured development of the audio-visual industry, build a batch of new mainstream media with great influence and competitiveness, and build a brand new omnimedia communication system.

The country will advance the development of high-definition videos, and offer users with high-definition, virtual reality, augmented reality, panoramic, holographic and other premium audio-visual services, so as to better meet people’s demand for a better life and lead a new trend of cultural consumption.

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