Wang Kaihao

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

be hosts of the show.

Other on­line video plat­forms have al­ready in­tro­duced talk shows.

Roast, a pro­gram invit­ing cel­e­brated ac­tors or singers to make fun of each other in the form of a talk show, pre­miered in 2016 on Ten­cent, an­other of the major Chi­nese on­line video plat­forms, and it has won a huge fan base.

“The most pop­u­lar TV va­ri­ety shows in China are about singing and dancing, and com­edy was con­sid­ered mar­ginal,” says Ye Feng, head of the Shang­hai-based in­de­pen­dent pro­gram de­vel­oper Fun Fac­tory. His stu­dio is the be­hind-the-scenes team of Roast and the up­com­ing SNL China.

How­ever, he says the lack of an es­tab­lished model means there is more room for uniquely Chi­nese el­e­ments.

“Talk shows have a long tra­di­tion in the United States. But after we add some Chi­nese el­e­ments, they be­come a fresh and ex­cit­ing genre for Chi­nese view­ers, as they play with the lan­guage in an un­prece­dented way,” he says.

Con­se­quently, he says the style of SNL China will be more down-to-earth for Chi­nese view­ers.

Some other up­com­ing Youku pro­grams of­fer even newer for­mats for Chi­nese view­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to Song Binghua, a con­tent man­ager from Youku, they will re­lease a re­al­ity show on robot fight­ing next year, sim­i­lar to the Amer­i­can TV se­ries Bat­tleBots.

In the pro­gram called This Is Bots, 48 com­pet­ing teams from across the na­tion will de­sign and op­er­ate re­mote­con­trolled armed ma­chines to fight in a com­bat arena for the ti­tle of ul­ti­mate cham­pion.

“Robot fight­ing is a new thing in China,” Song ex­plains. “Geeks usu­ally don’t know how to act in front of cam­era, so the re­al­ity show will truly re­flect young Chi­nese peo­ple’s as­pi­ra­tions, tal­ent and pos­i­tive en­ergy.”

Founded in 2003, Youku is China’s ear­li­est on­line video plat­form. Since be­com­ing an arm of the Alibaba Group in 2015, Youku has nur­tured a big am­bi­tion to lo­cal­ize the world’s most pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion gen­res for on­line view­ing.

Also on the long list of Youku’s up­com­ing on­line of­fer­ings are dra­mas, many of which also bor­row ideas from over­seas, but tell their sto­ries with Chi­nese char­ac­ter­is­tics.

For ex­am­ple, The Long­est Day in Chang’an, a his­tor­i­cal ad­ven­ture and thriller set in Chang’an (to­day’s Xi’an, Shaanxi prov­ince), the Chi­nese cap­i­tal dur­ing the Tang Dy­nasty (618-907), claims to be China’s 24 by de­pict­ing the events of a sin­gle day in one sea­son.

No­voland: Ea­gle Flag, an epic fan­tasy drama set in a fic­tional time in an­cient China, aims to be a Chi­nese ver­sion of Game of Thrones.

“The sea­sonal Chi­nese dra­mas will not just copy the mod­els of Amer­i­can or Korean TV se­ries, though,” Yang Wei­dong, head of Youku, said in a key­note speech in Shang­hai.

“We need to re­spect the tastes of Chi­nese au­di­ences.”

China’s on­line pro­grams used to be widely crit­i­cized for us­ing some eye-catch­ing or even vul­gar el­e­ments to at­tract view­ers.

How­ever, as China’s in­ter­net reg­u­la­tion over on­line pro­grams strength­ened, higher qual­ity pro­grams be­came a must.

For in­stance, the crime drama Day and Night pre­miered on Youku in Au­gust. It gained a rat­ing of nine out of 10 points on Douban, China’s major film and TV rat­ing web­site.

The show’s pro­duc­tion team once re­vealed that each episode cost more than 2 mil­lion yuan ($300,000), even though the se­ries needs no fancy vis­ual ef­fects.

In June, the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Press, Pub­li­ca­tion, Ra­dio, Film and Tele­vi­sion re­leased a rule, stat­ing that the same criteria will be used to ap­prove on­line pro­grams as those broad­cast on TV.

“The time when on­line plat­forms could make use of dif­fer­ent ap­proval criteria has ended,” Yang says.

He says there were dozens of on­line video plat­forms in China more than a decade ago, but the num­ber keeps shrink­ing and there are now only three on­line video plat­form colos­suses — Youku, Ten­cent and iQiyi.

“In such in­tense com­pe­ti­tion, no one will waste en­ergy on mak­ing a pro­gram if it can­not of­fer new aes­thet­ics and sto­ry­lines to catch the at­ten­tion of au­di­ences,” Yang says.

Con­tact the writer at wangkai­hao@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

TheLongestDay­inChang’an is one of the most an­tic­i­pated dra­mas by Youku.

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