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The aesthetic reconstruction of domestic entertainment starts with redefining the hits

Entertainment hard candy 2024/06/25 16:40

Author: Gu Han

Editor|Li Chunhui

"Finished with internal entertainment?" Standing in 2024, we can clearly respond to this popular joke in previous years - internal entertainment is not over, it has just changed. And, there is more good news than bad news.

There are signs that the era of traffic is over. There are two significant signs: first, it will no longer produce new "top streams"; Second, the traffic is becoming less and less "drama-bearing", and the topic advantage is rapidly declining.

The most immediate benefit brought to the audience by the change is that domestic entertainment has entered a period of reconstruction of unknown duration. Some deformed things are being discarded, some familiar things are returning, and some never-before-seen and exciting things are being born. But on the other hand, this kind of deep and comprehensive shock also brings us a lot of confusion: the explosion of dramas is becoming more and more unpredictable and even difficult to explain, and it is becoming more and more difficult to come up with a unified and reliable evaluation of the same work or main creator.

If we believe in media determinism, then the best place to answer and restructure these questions is still the long-form video platform. It took them a small decade to become the center of drama production, and they are the driving force behind all kinds of changes.

Entertainment hard candy, the aesthetic reconstruction of internal entertainment, starting from the redefinition of popular models

In the era of traditional media, the "elite" has the final say, and only they hold the "golden horn"; In the era of traffic, the masses have the final say, and whoever has the loudest voice is reasonable; Judging from Tencent's speech by Sun Zhonghuai during the Shanghai TV Festival, while the video platform is exporting multiple dramas to reshape the aesthetics of domestic entertainment, it is trying to reconstruct the drama evaluation system, and what it ultimately leads to is a fundamental change in the business model of the drama.

The 2C drama sales model that has been called for many years is really coming this time.

The aesthetics of internal entertainment are reconstructed, and good dramas refresh cognition

Entertainment hard candy, the aesthetic reconstruction of internal entertainment, starting from the redefinition of popular models

"First of all, I would like to ask everyone at the scene, has there been any change in Tencent Video's perception of the TV drama business in the past two years? My own experience is that there has been a lot of change. On June 24, at the annual Tencent Video Film and Television Annual Release, Sun Zhonghuai, Vice President of Tencent and CEO of Tencent Online Video, put out the keywords at the beginning of his speech.

As the first echelon of long video, Tencent Video's every move has attracted much attention, and the changes are undoubtedly obvious to all. Sun Zhonghuai focused on two points: first, the categories are more diversified, supplementing and opening up many new genres in addition to big costumes and sweet pet dramas; The second is that there are more good-looking dramas, especially in the past year, "iteratively and continuously launched", Tencent Video has 18 works shortlisted for this year's Magnolia Awards.

These two points can basically be regarded as the precursor or epitome of the changes in the entire national drama. First, new tracks are constantly being opened up, and new aesthetic or emotional appeals are constantly being explored and satisfied. The second is that not only have there been more good dramas, but the degree of "good" is constantly refreshing the audience's imagination.

Among them, the most representative ones are, of course, "The Long Season" and "Flowers", which were both praised by Ma Huateng and won multiple nominations in Magnolia. On the one hand, both have created a new peak in the artistic value of Chinese dramas. "The Long Season" shows the spicy aura and authorship of the cutting-edge director, while retaining the texture and literature of the "Northeast Renaissance", its proper casting also brings the audience a gluttonous feast of high-quality performances.

Entertainment hard candy, the aesthetic reconstruction of internal entertainment, starting from the redefinition of popular models

"Flowers", not to mention, is the most ideal result of the film director's drama, every bit of light and shadow, every frame of the picture is worthy of its rare shooting cycle. As industry insiders say, "There is art upward, there is a destiny of the times to the depth, there is a story downward, and there is endless beauty and details to the left and right side branches." ”

On the other hand, the influence of both has exceeded expectations, or rather, surpassed previous works of the same kind. "The Long Season", as a 12-episode pure network suspense short drama, is still a topic of conversation for nearly a month, and the follow-up not only went to Netflix, but also appeared on Jiangsu Satellite TV and CCTV8 in China for the second and third rounds of broadcasting.

The literary film director "Flowers" did not fall into the dilemma of high and low, but burst out with amazing commercial value. Not only has the advertising investment performance been outstanding, and the brand cooperation has been continuous, but also set off a wave of check-ins offline, strongly empowering Shanghai's cultural tourism. Because of this, the nomination of the two dramas in Magnolia is not only concerned by the industry, but also aroused heated discussions among netizens, and the hot search at the time of the real awards is completely predictable.

Entertainment hard candy, the aesthetic reconstruction of internal entertainment, starting from the redefinition of popular models

The fact that these two dramas can achieve such results is the result of the aesthetic reconstruction of domestic entertainment, and it is also a sign of the arrival of a new era. On the one hand, this shows that Chinese audiences can fully appreciate works with deep themes and challenging narratives, as long as they are good enough. Whether it is the "fine chaff theory" of the audience, or the so-called excuse that is unwilling to innovate in order to be compatible with the audience, you can all accept it.

On the other hand, the birth and success of these two dramas also show that after a short period of experiencing the crisis of "fragmented drama watching", traditional long dramas have finally re-established their own value and positioning, and found the direction of future efforts. For example, give full play to the advantages of immersive storytelling in long videos, and take more responsibility for delivering value and building consensus. Another example is to climb the peak of art and create more good dramas that can be retained, internationally competitive, and cannot be reduced to "handsome and beautiful".

The reconstruction of the evaluation system and how to define a hit drama

Entertainment hard candy, the aesthetic reconstruction of internal entertainment, starting from the redefinition of popular models

However, in today's domestic entertainment, the more commonly used framework for judging a drama is not to judge good or bad, but to learn from the explosion.

Whether it is a hot search, a forum or a private chat, it is often a new drama with flowing water, and the iron-clad "has it exploded", "is it really explosive" or "fake explosive" type of questioning. The extended topics are even more diverse, such as "so-and-so drama is so popular, where is it good-looking", and its mirror problem, "since so-and-so drama is so good-looking, why didn't it explode".

In the case of a set of in-station popularity values per capita for long videos, people from all walks of life continue to create ways to learn from the wild way, including but not limited to the number of second creations, the number of reservations, the investment situation, and the development of actors...... This also reflects the enthusiasm of the masses. I have to say that this is a sequelae of the traffic era.

Popular dramas are probably abbreviations or variants of popular dramas, and popular dramas are a popular concept in the era of traffic hot money, which is closely related to all kinds of irrationality and unprofessionalism at that time. Since 2018, as the official crackdown on ratings fraud, video platforms have also closed the front-end playback, starting a long battle of de-traffic. However, the upstream and downstream positions are different, and it is difficult to align the pace.

This is not only because it is a long process to abandon data-only theory, but also because the explosion is equivalent to market feedback, which has a great impact on the reproduction of content.

In the final analysis, everyone is really worried about the chaos of the traffic era. On the other hand, I really don't know how much the progress bar of the upstream "change of mind" has reached. What criteria are used by various platforms to select projects and shoot dramas, the audience has no bottom in their hearts.

Therefore, what is needed most at the moment is actually the platform to express its stance and give the audience a sense of security and guidance. And this happens to be what Tencent Video is pursuing. On the one hand, Ma Huateng's attitude is very clear, not only the heart-wrenching words of "small advertisements on telephone poles", but also the sharp comments of "The Long Season", "Three-Body Problem" and "Flowers" as "expensive and very worthwhile".

Entertainment hard candy, the aesthetic reconstruction of internal entertainment, starting from the redefinition of popular models

As for Tencent Video, since 2021, Tencent Video has been committed to putting it into practice, and has continued to show the latest progress in thinking and practice. In June 2023, Sun Zhonghuai has already mentioned that the artistic achievements of the works should be separated from the business success, and this year it has further clarified how to divide and which to look at:

"How do you evaluate the success of a work? In the past, we mainly evaluated the project from the economic benefits and whether it can make money. Now we have changed it to a binary evaluation: not only to look at the economic benefits, but also to look at the artistic achievements of the work, the reputation of the industry and the audience. It's no longer just about the money. ”

Of course, more importantly, Tencent Video did not let the new strategy and new standards stay at the slogan level, but reformed and reshaped the atmosphere around it, so that respect for art became a platform culture and an operation manual, so that it could effectively influence the most grassroots actions and the most tangible content production.

Reshape the business model and subvert the relationship

Entertainment hard candy, the aesthetic reconstruction of internal entertainment, starting from the redefinition of popular models

In fact, it is not difficult to see that the aesthetic reconstruction of internal entertainment can be carried out continuously and effectively, and upstream promotion and downstream certification are indispensable. Is "Flowers" worth it? There are voices of skepticism, but there is also more real-money feedback in favor of positive answers. Therefore, as mentioned in Sun Zhonghuai's speech, the business model established by long video for dramas is dominated by member consumption, and it already has the conditions to let the audience vote with their feet and let good content be screened and promoted from the bottom up.

But at the same time, Sun Zhonghuai also pointed out sharply that the production and broadcasting link still retains the B2B tradition of the traditional drama industry, and there is a disconnect with the payment model with 2C as the end point. To put it simply, when broadcasting a drama, the platform's income comes from the payment of C-end users, but the income of the production company comes from the front-end platform procurement or production transactions, and it is not directly responsible to the audience.

The drawbacks of this model have emerged in the era of traditional media, and they are still being replicated in the era of long video. First, as analyzed in Sun Zhonghuai's speech, "once the deal is reached, the relationship between rights and obligations and the risk responsibility of broadcasting will be transferred", it is difficult not to breed some chaos of preview fraud and unfinished water injection, the audience's experience of chasing dramas is not guaranteed, and the platform has become a big wrongdoer.

Second, the importance of "relationship" is infinitely magnified. Sun Zhonghuai rarely put this point directly on the table, "In the past, the platform and the production company had to have a good relationship, so that the platform could find good project clues as soon as possible and not leak the ball; The production company can lock the order as soon as possible and sell it at a good price. "This will inevitably lead to a lot of distractions and additional expenses on both sides, and more seriously, corruption.

Entertainment hard candy, the aesthetic reconstruction of internal entertainment, starting from the redefinition of popular models

What's more, in this mode, what you have to figure out when making a drama is not how to please the audience, but how to meet on the platform. The polishing and revision of the script are all carried out on the B-side, and the situation of disconnection with the audience is basically impossible to detect, let alone corrected in time. In terms of content, it can neither go two-way with the audience, and the payment model will naturally not give full play to the maximum screening effect.

Having said that, the context and goal of Tencent's video business reform have been very obvious: that is, to make the production and sales model of dramas truly 2C, dilute the influence of people and relationships in decision-making, and give the power to decide good dramas and their reproduction to the audience.

Previously, Tencent Video's reforms were mainly internal, including the introduction of a job rotation mechanism; Reform the remuneration model of the producer team so that the income is linked to the final quality of the work; In the assessment of producers, team leaders and studio leaders, the success rate of the work is increased by increasing the assessment pressure.

Next, Tencent Video decided to break through the relationship model with its partners, inviting the production company to try dynamic gambling and posteriori incentives, so that the two sides "share risks, face the audience together, and share revenues". Correspondingly, Tencent Video also promised that it will give better solutions in the future regarding the accuracy, transparency and credibility of project data.

On the other hand, Tencent Video will continue to optimize the process and standards of the project, do not despise any story or creator, do not superstitious about any team and past popular experience, treat all creators equally, and everything is based on the fact that the drama can win the audience's love. Do not be a "friend of wine and meat" with the production company, but a "co-creation partner who supervises each other".

Entertainment hard candy, the aesthetic reconstruction of internal entertainment, starting from the redefinition of popular models

Sun Zhonghuai pointed out that this model has been practiced in the film industry for many years. The mechanism of balancing risk and reward by relying entirely on the audience to vote with their feet makes creators always in a rigorous test, and has the motivation to study the market and improve their creation. At the same time, long-term professional word-of-mouth exporters and long-term contributors to the industry can also obtain high returns. Such a "double gain of fame and fortune" is also his long-term expectation for the TV drama industry.

It is conceivable that reversing the B2B tradition of the drama industry is an extremely difficult step, but it is also an important step that is expected to modernize and industrialize the drama industry. We expect that as Tencent Video takes the lead in making such an attempt, there will be more word-of-mouth and popularity in full bloom, and domestic entertainment and audiences will be able to get out of the shadow of the traffic era as soon as possible.

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