China’s 2016 box office fell well short of the expectations with growth a mere 3.7% from 2015, the first time in more than a decade that the growth rate slumped below 25%. Domestic films actually declined by 2% year-over-year in box office gross sales.

In sharp contrast, the market for Chinese “online films”, feature-length motion pictures for online release, saw explosive growth in 2016 in terms of both output and revenue.

More than 2500 such online films, or 网络大电影 (also known colloquially as “网大”) in Chinese, were published on the major seven Chinese on-demand video streaming platforms in 2016, up 260% from the previous year, according to EntGroup, a local entertainment market research firm. The total number of theatrical films was only 423, including 92 imported titles.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com