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Reviving Screens: How 2023 Became the Year of Blockbuster Dramas and Variety Shows, Transforming Viewing Habits and Advertising Dynamics

In 2023, the drama and variety show (剧综) market witnessed a remarkable revival, underpinned by a strategic focus on content excellence and enhanced user value. This year marked the beginning of an era where platforms leveraged blockbuster openings to unleash a concentrated release of content, steering towards a business model that prioritizes "content sophistication" and the construction of a comprehensive membership service ecosystem. These strategies have notably elevated the commercial stature of online video platforms.


The Surge of Blockbuster Content

  • Platform Commercial Strategies in the Limelight

The year 2023 saw online video platforms embarking on a journey of "content premiumization" and the development of a robust membership service system, significantly advancing platform commercialization. From an array of hit productions that continuously set new records for viewership to membership enhancements like the inclusion of Mango TV membership benefits in Tmall 88VIP, the synergy within the ecosystem was evident.

  • Viral Content Drives Peak Traffic

Platforms in 2023 were armed with numerous hit contents, sequentially released, ensuring sustained viewer engagement. Data from QuestMobile highlighted that during the airing of The Knockout "狂飙," iQIYI's daily active users surged to 130 million, underlining the potent draw of leading content.

  • Focused Content Deployment

While platforms varied in content strategies, the fundamental focus remained on drama and variety shows. Emerging genres such as travel/lifestyle/culture coupled with social scenarios saw quicker growth in viewership, with music and performance genres continuing to capture audience interest. Networks also ventured into online films, becoming vital channels for extending cinematic releases and innovating in commercialization. The movie sector thrived on new IPs, predominantly in mystery and comedy genres, while long video platforms also expanded into short drama content, mainly revolving around romance themes.

  • Top Content Breaches Boundaries

Overall, new user additions mirrored platform demographics, with hit dramas displaying cross-demographic appeal, primarily attracting differentiated user bases for platforms. Web variety shows played a significant role in acquiring new users and exerted a strong influence on female audiences.

Leading Content Dictates Commercial Trends

  • Variety Show Sponsorships Favour Top IPs

Brands sponsoring variety shows gravitated towards leading IPs, valuing program traffic and exclusive naming rights. With content viewership on the rise, OTV (Online Television) advertising maintained its growth trajectory, with mobile platforms contributing over 66% to video patch ad revenues in the latter half of 2023, marking a 12% increase from the previous year.

Brands intensifying their focus on patch ad exposure, traditionally inclined towards OTV investments, maintained their budgets. OTV advertising catered mainly to brands seeking high exposure, integrating with content sponsorships for a comprehensive marketing strategy. As a premium ad slot, the open screen of long videos served primarily to boost brand visibility.

2024 Outlook: Expanding on Core Values

The drama and variety market's future trajectory builds on its foundational elements, with potential shifts anticipated to influence its course.


  • Membership Expansion Remains a Priority

Sustained growth hinges on the continuous delivery of high-quality content, ensuring steady membership growth. Self-produced content remains a pivotal area of competitive differentiation, optimizing resource utilization and integrating with external resources for strategic positioning.

  • Short Drama Content as a Supplementary Traffic Source

As platforms observed a burgeoning viewership for short dramas, there's a push towards exploring premium pathways for short drama content, paralleling the trend towards high-quality long-form dramas. 

  • Variety Show Themes and Production Teams Cross Platforms

With major platforms setting divergent schedules for variety show releases in 2024, Mango TV aims to capture the New Year slot, while Tencent Video focuses on Q2. The trend towards repackaging top and mid-tier traffic, along with the significant impact of reality shows featuring ordinary people, will continue into 2024, focusing on niche circles and verticals to align with youth culture and emerging trends. 

  • Commercial Expansion in Drama and Variety Shows

Creating more opportunities for brands to engage with users and assist in sales conversion remains a crucial direction for commercial expansion in drama and variety shows. By extending the marketing lifecycle horizontally to capitalize on popularity waves and vertically integrating interactive content to deeply engage users, platforms aim to showcase the marketing value of drama and variety shows.


In summary, 2023 has been a pivotal year for the drama and variety show market, with strategic content deployment and commercial innovations setting the stage for future growth. As platforms continue to refine their content offerings and commercial strategies, the landscape is poised for further evolution, promising a vibrant and engaging entertainment ecosystem for viewers and brands alike.


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