US giant Netflix has bought the exclusive rights to stream a Chinese period drama about royal factions and princes and concubines bent on doing each other in.
The California-based video-hosting platform announced on its website last week that it would soon start showing The Rise of Phoenixes (天盛長歌) in more than a dozen languages from mid-September.
The 70-episode series starring Chinese heartthrob Chen Kun premiered on China’s Hunan Television last month and became an instant smash hit.
This is a story of power, desire, lust and love among people from different royal clans in ancient China, set in the gilded halls of the ruling Tiansheng kingdom.
“When a secret from the past rears its head, a respected warrior is forced to choose between revenge and loyalty to his ruling prince,” noted Netflix on its webpage promoting the title.
Rob Roy, Netflix Vice President for Content-Asia, said Netflix “looks forward to growing the Chinese title catalog with more stories that bring to life the intriguing heritage of Chinese culture.”
It is believed Netflix aims to consolidate its subscriber base in Asia, especially among the Mandarin-speaking audience across Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and even Japan, on more than one billion smart devices like mobile phones and tablets. In the past, coach potatoes could only watch pirated content on China-based online video platforms.
But mainland China is yet to grant a license to Netflix.
This is not the first time Netflix has decided to stream a Chinese drama, with other popular Chinese productions aired in 2015 and 2017.
The Beijing-based Global Times also commented in a report that localization would be indispensable for Netflix to expand its business in Asia and the Mandarin-speaking world, though the paper stopped short of forecasting when Communist Party watchdogs responsible for entertainment and ideological education could allow Netflix and its like to enter the massive Chinese market.
It is said Vice President Wang Qishan was a big fan of Netflix’s signature political thriller House of Cards.
Producers of the Chinese drama, the Zhejiang-based Huace Group and Shanghai-based Croton Cultural Media, declined to disclose how much they could get from Netflix.