Fewer episodes, better quality: what China’s new TV rules mean for advertisers and media budgets – The Drum

Marathon television shows, a regular feature of the Chinese broadcast scene, are set to disappear, with the country’s media regulator moving to place limits on the number of episodes per title and calling for quality improvements in the industry.

According to analysis from National Business Daily, the average length of a TV show in China has increased from from 30 to 40 episodes over the course of the last decade.

Many popular shows available on Baidu’s iQiyi, Alibaba’s Youku, and Tencent Video include up to 90 episodes. The trend has led to celebrities being paid exorbitant appearance fees, adding pressure to production budgets.

In response to Chinese premier Xi Jinping’s directive on increasing the country’s cultural footprint and soft power, the National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) has released a notice that sets hard limits on series lengths and more stringent rules governing production budgets.

The notice is critical of producers that “rush to shoot without sufficient preparation” and turn out low-quality shows.

The NRTA has fixed the number of episodes at 40 per show but is encouraging producers to make fewer than 30. It has also ordered producers to submit costs for review and determined that actors’ salaries must not exceed 40% of total production cost.

Benjamin Wei, China managing director at Essence, says existing industry standards and revenue models of TV show production in China have impacted quality, while increasing costs.

The revenue share model used by broadcasting platforms in China encourages producers to increase their