Content, Platforms and Distribution: Challenges and Prospect in the Field of Webisode Productions

Wei Jiang*, Pengcheng Zhou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Online drama, or webisode, refers to series that take the Internet as the main communication channel and netizens as the main audiences. Compared with traditional TV drama, webisode is a novelty with its uniqueness and diversity, which is worth our study. As an emerging industry, China's online drama industry has developed considerably in recent years in terms of genre, quantity and quality, but at the same time, the industry is faced with the issues of simplification of theme selection, lagging of innovation ability and vulgarization of content production (Leng and Zhang 2015). Webisode creators’ misreading of the characteristics of network drama creation and misunderstanding of the word “network sense” have led to the neglect of quality control and excessive adoptions of network IPs, and consequently have hindered the development of online drama creation and online drama industry (Zhao 2017). In addition, the rise of short video platforms has shifted the viewing habits of abundant netizens, and the traditional online dramas associated with long video platforms as the broadcasting channels have been challenged significantly, resulting in the emergence and prevalence of online vertical screen dramas (Cheng 2019). Meanwhile, due to the continuous requirements of the Party to cultivate a healthy and positive cyberculture (Xi 2016), the relevant authorities of the Chinese state have issued and updated regulatory policies many times for this novel form of entertainment. And the policies are often seen by critics as a restriction on the freedom of online drama creation (Hu et al. 2020). Although researches have been conducted frequently on content and forms of online dramas and challenges faced by the online drama industry, a direct and deep communication with the practitioners from the industry is missing. As pointed out by Potter, formal interviews and dialogues with industry people can indeed bring a series of benefits to researchers (2018). Those benefits include access to unpublished expertise and a wider understanding of the operational thinking and belief systems that emerge from industry practices (Freeman 2016). This study filled the gap between the industry and academia, thus deepening our understanding of the online drama industry.

In any case, the Chinese government's policy on the online drama industry is bound to have an impact on the development of the industry.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChinese TV in the Netflix Era
EditorsXiaying Xu, Hui Liu
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherAnthem Press
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781839987076, 9781839987069
ISBN (Print)9781839987052, 1839987057
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


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