This week, TechNode’s translation column looks at Chinese video site Bilibili, as a Chinese analyst traces its development from a source for anime to a thriving community of homebrew video stars. This translation is abridged, and made by permission of the author. TechNode has not independently verified the claims made by this article.

This article was co-authored by Erik Stahle.

Most longform video content is pretty cookie cutter in China. Leading streaming video websites Youku, Iqiyi, and Tencent Video have the same middle-market target customers, and in turn produce boatloads of lowest-common-denominator content. Hemmed in by regulations and conservative producers, original content for these platforms tends to stick to tired tropes like cop procedurals and gaokao dramas (the Chinese equivalent of Adam Sandler Netflix movies and The Kissing Booth). One new hit show—like the past few years’ hip hop, dance, and pop star competitions —instantly spawns copycats across the other two platforms.

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Jordan Schneider

Jordan Schneider is a freelancer based in Beijing and the host of the ChinaEconTalk podcast.