Are C-dramas Taking Over the World in Sheer Volume?

story of yanxi palace
Have you heard of the joke, "God created the world, everything else is made in China." Well, looks like China has added another to their list of fast-growing products: Dramas. It was just last year when Story of Yanxi Palace became Google's most searched TV showRecently, it was reported by Variety that more than half of the world's new TV dramas released each year are made in China (pun intended). 

meteor garden
I remember that it was 10-15 years or so ago when my love affair started with the hit Taiwanese drama Meteor Garden which came full circle with the most recent remake starring Shen Yue and Dylan WangThen Korean dramas swept all over Asia to create the phenomenon known as the Hallyu wave. Where I live, everyone would tune into their locally dubbed versions of K-dramas or splurge on DVDs to catch released dramas from Korea, Japan and even Thailand.

a love so beautiful
As of late however, China has risen up the drama chain. If I'm being honest, I used to avoid watching C-dramas as I wasn't a big fan of the flying stunts back then. (forgive me, for I have sinned) Not until the hit series A Love So Beautiful became popular that my eyes opened to a whole new world. I just knew I had to dig deep and boy did I not regret it. 

My attention turned to the xianxia/wuxia/costume genres (which I initially had NO intention whatsoever of watching) but started gobbling up because of the likes of Three Lives Three Worlds Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, Ashes of Love and The Rise of the Phoenixes. I was converted to this genre that C-dramas are more popularly known for.

the rise of the phoenixes
It's no wonder C-dramas are slowly gaining attention worldwide - what with their SVOD platforms iQIYI, Tencent and Youku making it more accessible for international viewership. According to Variety, around 300 new dramas have been commissioned by Chinese broadcasters and streaming sites in the past half year which is the equivalent for dramas from the rest of the world. That's a lot. Granted quantity does not equal quality, but I hope for the latter because the good ones that actually stand out are that good.  


  1. I thought there's something interesting but this is just an article stating that China aka the 3rd biggest country in the world is producing a lot of dramas compared to other countries? Are we even surprised? They're big country naturally they have everything in sheer volume. Their budget, the number of actors, dramas, film etc. Their film market is second largest in the world. Their luxury market is the largest one in the world that's why international luxury brands have big presence in China.

    Cdrama taking the world in sheer volume is nothing surprising but the key is whether cdrama can or will be as mainstream as kdrama outside of China one day. So far the cdrama demand is still a niche among non-English speaking people. A lot of cdramas released every year but there's only handful that get picked up for sub. There were plenty great cdramas out there that never get recognised and subbed. Mostly romance drama that tend to get picked up for sub.

    Story of Yanxi Palace become thet most googgled show in 2018 because there were lot of Han Chinese populated in the world and they don't need eng sub to watch contents from China. Only weeks after that, intl fans (non-Chinese) started noticed the drama. Otherwise all they noticed are idol romance dramas.

    1. *among non-chinese speaking people

    2. So lucky that they subbed it. None of the actors in the drama were idol or known yet, so the subbing was slow and very glad it got subbed all the way.

  2. Funny thing is that hubby always is watching US american series (Netflix, Amazon Prime & Co.) and I recently thought 'Another new series? One each week or what?'. From my view C-Drama is still behind since series are most often way shorter even the long ones. China has lot more inhabitants what should be included also. Many new Dramas starting each week can feel a bit overwhelming but that is exactly the same feeling I have with Western series.

    I wouldn't mind when C-Drama would get a lot more popular among the Western commoners since we need a bit more utopian stories than dystopian. To be honest, outside of Asia it is still a "special interest" even though it got bigger over the years. And it would help to give people another view of China besides from biased news and rumors. It is more difficult for administrations to paint China as "Bad Guy" when we think about them as humans equal to us too. We often get teached to feel surperior that we tend to forget that have feelings and opinions about their life too.

    When the first C-Drama will air on a big station channel at best time in my country then I will start to believe it.

  3. Cdramas have always been quite popular internationally since My Fair Princess, Chinese Paladin, Legend of Zhenhuan and Scarlet Heart era but mostly, if not only among Chinese overseas.

    Only in the past 5 years since 2014, a lot more intl fans started to notice and watch cdramas from Boss and Me, My Sunshine, Love Me If You Dare, Nirvana In Fire, The Disguiser, The Journey of Flowers, Love O2O, Ode To Joy, TMOPB, Princess Agents and more. I think dramas adapted from Gu Man novels and dramas produced by Daylight Ent. are the ones that brought new cdrama wave.

    Now cdramas are growing, slowly but surely every year. Still far from taking over Asia or the world like kpop, kdramas and jdramas though. Because not a lot of people can afford the time to watch something with 40+ episodes. And if we think it back, like anons above said, minus Chinese overseas, cdramas are still just a special or niche interest and English sub is still limited. It's like how few Thailand or Philippines romance movies gaining attention or going viral once in awhile.

    Even though Story of Yanxi Palace was Google' most searched TV list last year, it was in fact not really popular among people who don't speak Chinese language. Hence why people didn't feel its presence compared to other popular US shows, Korean dramas or few mainstream cdramas among intl fans. I remember English subs came out very late too..few months after it done aired in China. It was possible (become the most searched TV show) because Han Chinese constitute the world's largest ethnic group and a lot of them actually follow news and updates on contents from China.

    1. @ Anonymous 3:

      I don't agree with you on this part regarding Google search. "It was possible (become the most searched TV show) because Han Chinese constitute the world's largest ethnic group and a lot of them actually follow news and updates on contents from China." There is no Google available in China.

    2. What are you talking about?? Pls educated yourself. Han Chinese is an ethnic that exist in a lot of countries, not China. It was literally everywhere all over the world in USA, Canada, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan etc .And they all use Google. I'm not talking solely about Mainland China who has Google blocked in their countries..

    3. @ Anonymous 3 & 3.b (same person)

      Of course I know that, even with all the people of Han Chinese in different countries including myself - I don't think it's enough to create that massive search on Google. Thank you!

  4. Pros: Probably more "decent" cdrama will subbed

    Cons: There will be lot of annoying fans like "kpopies" and the likes who spread toxicity in fangirling.

    1. annoying fans already exist in China before this, it's not new lol

  5. China produce so many dramas every year but only a handful (or less) are watchable. And only 2-3 are great each year, that you can watch from beginning to the end without skipping such as Yanxi Palace.

    Chinese dramas keep depending on idols popularity to generate them 60 episodes long without any plot existing. I believe intl fans are not as crazy (since these stars are so far away) there is no such thing as star chasing over here, so we don't care how popular an idol is. If somebody's drama is going to be very stupid then it's stupid. Most itntl people who got the stereotype that Chinese dramas is always about nothing but annoying esp female leads with squeaky voices who talk like 5 years old (happens 99% of the time) would not watch Chinese dramas. This is why there are not many intl fans. China need to get more creative. Those who are used to it, watch with the hope that it will get improved and are grateful for any subtitle even only very very very stupid and dumb dramas get subbed.

  6. To be honest, the easy access to subbed Chinese dramas via app like WeTV (Tencent), iQIYI, and MGTV, has got me hooked. I wish Youku had an internationally subbed app as well. It also helps that a lot of distributors have official YouTube channels and upload full episodes there, unlike their K/J-counterparts.

    I think when it comes to international distribution via internet, C-dramas are the most savvy. K-dramas are available through official online channels such as Viki) only in North America, rarely anywhere else, and only quite recently made available through Netflix.

    I don't know how it is with other countries, but payment for Chinese apps mentioned above is so easy in my country. All I have to do is swipe my finger on touch ID. While paying for other apps, such as Spotify, require me to transfer from my bank account. So from a conveniency POV, C-dramas are literally at my fingertips.

  7. are we surprised? they really up their dramas game and their stars are more internationally known drama wise vs kdrama, and korean movies are more well known in comparison. you have tons of choices, granted not all are good and production budgets varies but like you'll probably find what you want. also that's not to mention the amount of dramas already filmed but not being released yet. and they're readily available

    China is getting better and well known. You keep seeing Chinese actors and production in American theaters nowadays. i think slowly they ll be more known with movies too, Wandering Earth and Nazhe were quite impressive.they have the money, the technologies and star power to do it.

  8. I really think it's the access to content and movies in mainstream cinemas. In terms of content production, India is second to Hollywood, China is somewhere in the same range. However access to Indian content is not as easy (Netflix and Amazon is bridging the gap, but only a tiny fraction filters through).

    In my office floor of 400+ people, outside those who are of Asian origin or interested in Asian-cultures, there's probably a couple of handfuls who knows about entertainment media coming out of China.

    Ne Zha was the biggest movie in China for 2019, but it is only shown in one cinema in my city, no publicity, ran for 2 weeks and the session I went on a Saturday afternoon was only 15%-20% full.

    Outside this bubble we find each other in, C-drama or C-ent is not necessarily 'taking over the world' but, as one Anonymous pointed out, most likely those of Asian-origin, those interested in Asian cultures, existing fans and/or people who spotted the drama on Netflix and proceeded to find out more.

    As another Anonymous pointed out, we in the western world is being bombarded as it is by content coming out of Hollywood.

  9. With how Chinese drama are currently filmed (a lot low quality or writing is more align with PRC viewers) and how insanely long they are (50 episodes) it will never get to the same popularity as Kdrama, HK drama, Taiwanese drama, or Japanese drama.

    To be honest the only C-drama I've seen that gain traction and be popular outside of Chinese viewers/speakers are the historical drama. C-drama based on the modern world rarely gets traction out of Chinese-speaking individuals.

  10. C-Dramas are gaining more popularity because of it's relative ease of access in recent years. Platforms like Netflix, Amazon and Viki are allowing more and more people to be exposed to the genre. Plus, top dramas like Princess Agents, TMOPB, AOL and The Untamed are getting people hooked. The Chinese government is talking about limiting the number of episodes per drama, which will help cut out the fluff in dramas, significantly shortening it's length. If China continues to film high quality dramas, I can see the genre eventually taking over other Asian countries in terms of cultural dominance. China has the money, people and market to do so.