“You have to become part of the online scene, you can’t retreat into your own thinking,” Santo Han, screenwriter on The Ferry Man Manjusaka, told TechNode. On that day alone his film made RMB 160,000 on iQiyi, ranking app Maoyan tells us, still going strong five weeks after its release when it brought in over RMB 3 million a day.

Access to audience data is transforming the film industry in China. Movies made for streaming platforms have rapidly become high-quality feature films with lavish budgets and marketing allowances to match. The turf war between the mainstreaming platforms has coincided with changes in technology, changes that have brought more data about the audience and made it easier for them to pay. Add in business models that share revenues based on views with production companies, and the industry is awash with cash and data. This is generating sophisticated content that is expected to become increasingly fragmented to capture diversifying audiences.

iQiyi just about has the lead in terms of rival platforms in China. As it announced its $2.4 billion Nasdaq IPO filing which will give it even more cash to pump into content, we spoke to screenwriters and producers who work with iQiyi to understand the changes to the industry.

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...

Timmy Shen

Timmy Shen is a technology reporter based in Beijing. He's passionate about photography, education, food and all things tech. Send tips and feedback to timmyshen@technode.com or follow him on twitter at...