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Meet China's new global hit at ICIF: How ReelShort triggers overseas craze for CEO-centric romance

CEO-centric romance, love after marriage, and surrogate bride. These are themes that Chinese romance lovers cannot be more familiar with. Now, they are occupying the screens of overseas audiences as Chinese mini dramas are winning growing popularity in overseas markets.

The mini drama series, usually consisting of 60-80 episodes with about one minute for each, adopt a fast-paced narrative style with constant melodramatic turns and twists to keep the audience hooked throughout. Data from Sensor Tower show that, as of February of 2024, more than 40 Chinese mini-drama apps have tapped into the overseas markets, garnering 55 million downloads and $170 million revenues in total.

Leading the mini-drama export is ReelShort, a Chinese APP launched by Crazy Maple Studio in 2022, which has contributed half of the overseas downloads and revenues of China’s mini-drama apps. In the fourth quarter of 2023, it surged to the first position in downloads on the ranking of entertainment apps in the US.

How is the overseas craze for these cheesy but classical Chinese romances created? At the International Cultural Trade Hall of the 20th ICIF, GDToday interviewed Nan Yapeng, the General Manager of Crazy Maple Studio (Beijing) to figure out.

The skyrocketing popularity of ReelShort can be traced earlier back to seven years ago when Crazy Maple launched Chapters, a popular interactive story game app. Along with the success of another web novel reading app—Kiss, Crazy Maple came to recognize the huge market potentials of Chinese romances and decided to blend their plots into ReelShort mini dramas.

"We found that female users in Euro-American market love stories of urban romance, werewolves, and vampires. At the same time, Chinese stories, such as CEO-centric romance, love after marriage and surrogate bride are also very popular," Nan told GDToday.

In face with the expanding overseas market demand, Crazy Maple does not want to miss out. "We really want to work with Chinese partners to bring these wonderful Chinese stories to overseas audiences," Nan said. "That's why we come to ICIF. We hope it can be a platform through which more people can get to know us and the big opportunity existing in overseas markets."

Reporter | Chen Siyuan

Video | Zhang Tianxiong, Liu Wenzhi

Editor | Nan

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