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The rising popularity of online literature in China is creating new growth opportunities for businesses in culture and entertainment, industry experts said.
More films based on online literary works are expected to hit China's movie theaters, and online novels have also been adapted into TV series and video games with great commercial success, He Hong, head of the Internet Literature of the China Writers Association, said on Tuesday at the sixth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province.
He said that a complete industrial chain based on the licensing of popular online literature which consists of its publication and adaptation to films, TV series, games and animated works, has been formed.
A report by China Audio-video and Digital Publishing Association estimated that total revenue from copyright licensing of China's major online reading platforms hit 1.77 billion yuan ($249 million) last year, almost double the number in 2017 of 840 million yuan.
Copyright licensing accounted for about 11.1 percent of the main revenues from China's major online reading platforms in 2018. Those platforms' main revenue hit 15.93 billion yuan last year, up 23.3 percent year-on-year. The platforms' total revenue stood at 34.2 billion yuan the same year.
Although the number fell behind that of reader subscriptions, which contribute 85.3 percent of China's major internet literature companies' main revenues, the report pointed out that copyright licensing is having an increasingly significant influence on online reading platforms.
The report said that over 80 percent of readers will follow the outcome of online literature derivatives like TV series and video games. Among those readers, some 80 percent are willing to pay for those services.
"The industry of online literature is booming, and at the same time we (Chinese online reading companies) are also seeking new growth," Zhang Lingyun, founder of leading online reading company Zhangyue Technology, said on Tuesday at a forum.
The theme of the discussion on the sidelines of the just concluded World Internet Conference was online literature's overseas development.
Zhang said in earlier interviews that the company is developing new products to help students read, learn and explore new revenue methods.
China's fast growing online literature industry has also seen a surge in overseas markets.
"China's online literature has entered an era of golden opportunities. Much of the literature has gone beyond borders to overseas countries and regions to help overseas readers understand Chinese literature," said He from the Internet Literature of the China Writers Association.
Xiao Jinghong, deputy head of the institute of internet literature of the China Writers Association, said on Tuesday that Chinese online literary works are seeing increasing influence in overseas markets and have created both cultural and commercial values.
COL Digital Publishing Group said a total of 11,168 pieces of online literary work were introduced to overseas markets in 2018, with an estimated market potential of 30 billion yuan.