Top Five Hottest Series on iQIYI, Tencent, and Youku in the First Quarter of 2024

2024 Chinese Hottest Drama

It's the start of the second quarter of 2024 so let's take a look back at how the Chinese series performed on the three giant streaming platforms in China during the first quarter. 

The commercial success and popularity of drama in Chinese streaming platforms are often measured by the so-called "heat index". It is not clear how the algorithm runs but it takes into consideration the views, the search, and the engagement in the platform during the broadcast. 

In 2018, according to China Daily, iQIYI removed its view count feature and created a more comprehensive evaluation system, called heat index, to measure the videos' popularity, and prevent "click farming" from contaminating the drama's data.

Bai Yicong, CEO of Linghe Media, said click farming - where third parties are paid to generate clicks on videos to artificially raise view counts - has become rampant across the nation, promoting unfair competition.

"Content producers will definitely suffer from click farming," Bai said. "Nowadays, we will evaluate content quality according to more comprehensive indicators, such as the number of reposts on Weibo instead of views alone."

Liu Wenfeng, chief technology officer of iQiyi, said that the new system - heat index - was based on diverse measures of viewer behavior, such as user interaction and shares on social media.

Youku and Tencent also adopted the heat index system to measure the popularity and commercial success of the drama on their respective platforms. 

They did not specify at which level they considered the drama to achieve complete success in both investment and popularity, but based on how they published and acknowledged the heat index of each broadcast, the following is the indication mark:

1. iQIYI: 10,000 but can go higher - iQIYI's measurement of the drama's commercial success looks like 10,000 heat index. This is based on how they give awards each year (Special Hot List Award) to dramas. 

However, the 10,000 level is not the ceiling point, the heat index can go up as long as there's movement in the system. For instance, iQIYI's hottest drama in 2023 was The Knockout, which achieved a highest peak of 11,800 during its broadcast.

2. Tencent: 30,000 but can go higher. Maybe it's the algorithm system, but Tencent has a different measurement of how they gauge the drama's performance during its broadcast. The 30,000 heat looks like their indication that the drama reached its commercial success on the platform. 

But 30,000 is not a ceiling point. It can still go higher. Tencent's most popular series that premiered in 2023 are Lost You Forever, which peaked at 33,144 heat, and Blossoms Shanghai, which had 31,129 highest peak during its broadcast.

3. Youku: 10,000 and cannot go higher. Unlike iQIYI and Tencent, Youku sets a ceiling point of 10,000 and the heat cannot go higher than that. The system will just indicate how many days the drama peaked at 10,000 to determine the ranking. 

Here are the top five hottest series on each streaming platform (IQIYI, Tencent, and Youku) during the first quarter of 2024:

1. IQIYI: So far no drama that premiered this year on iQIYI ever reached the 10,000 heat index. We are still waiting for the first iQIYI drama in 2024 to break into this level. But when talking about a successful broadcast, Always on the Move and War of Faith are the closest since they barged into the 9,000 mark. 

2024 Chinese Hottest Drama
iQIYI's hottest series in 2024 Q1

  1. Always on the Move. Highest peak: 9,958. Genre: Period drama. Main leads: Bai Jingting, Ding Yongdai, and Jin Chen.
  2. War of Faith. Highest peak: 9,600. (still on broadcast) Genre: Republican era drama. Main leads: Wang Yibo, Li Qin, and Wang Yang
  3. A Soldier's Story. Highest peak: 8,518. Genre: Historical/Comedy: Main Leads: Jiang Long and Shi Ce
  4. Born to Run. Highest peak: 8,505. Genre: Family/Slice-of-Life. Main Leads: Elaine Zhong, Xu Di, Chen Xiaoyi, and Yang Chao Yue
  5. Burning Flames. Highest peak: 8,500. Genre: Costume/Xianxia. Main Leads: Ren Jialun and Xing Fei
2024 Chinese Hottest Drama
2024 Q1 Tencent Heat Index

2. Tencent: Only one drama in the first quarter reached the 30,000 mark. 
  1. The Legend of Shen Li. Highest peak: 31,000 (still on broadcast). Genre: Costume/Xianxia. Main Leads: Zhao Liying and Lin Gengxin.
  2. The Hunter. Highest peak: 29, 930. Genre: Crime-Thriller. Main Leads: Zhang Songwen and Annabel Yao.
  3. Amidst a Snowstorm of Love. Highest peak: 28,504. Genre: Modern Romance/Sports. Main Leads: Wu Lei and Zhao Jinmai
  4. Islands. Highest peak: 27,579. Genre: Family drama. Main leads: Sandra Ma and Xu Fan
  5. Simple Days. Highest peak: 26,424. Genre: Family drama. Main leads: Tong Yao and Chen Xiao
3. Youku: Only two dramas that premiered in 2024 on Youku reached the ceiling point of commercial success on the platform. We ranked In Blossom first because it's the drama that reached the 10,000 heat index faster this year.

2024 Chinese Hottest Drama
2024 Q1 Youku Hottest Series

In October 2023, Youku adopted a new algorithm system for measuring the heat index of the drama in the platform during its broadcast, which makes it harder for new dramas to reach the ceiling point of 10,000 unlike before.

  1. In Blossom. Highest peak: 10,000 for 4 days. The fastest drama in 2024 on Youku to reach the 10,000 heat index, just within 48 hours of broadcast. This is still airing (they only released the express package) so this heat can still stay for another day. Genre: Costume/Investigative. Main Leads: Ju Jingyi and Liu Xueyi
  2. Love Endures. Highest peak: 10,000 for 4 daysReached the highest peak after 10 days of broadcast. Genre: Youth romance. Main Leads: Yang Zi and Fan Chengcheng
  3. My Boss. Highest peak: 9,504. Genre: Modern Romance. Main Leads: Chen Xingxu and Zhang Ruonan
  4. Everyone Loves Me. Highest peak: 9,247. Genre: Modern Romance. Main Leads: Lin Yi and Zhou Ye
  5. Judge Dee's Mystery. Highest peak: 8,587. Genre: Costume/Investigative. Main Leads: Zhou Yiwei, Wang Likun, and Elaine Zhong

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