The top 10 online literature writers in China have created franchises worth a staggering 1 billion yuan (0 million) each, Rupert Hoogewerf - better known in China as Hu Run, the British founder and chief researcher of the Hurun Report - announced at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the Hurun Research Institute and domestic IP management agency Mopian released the Mopian Hurun Most Valuable Creative Works IP 2017 list, which lists the top 100 most valuable literature IPs in China after 1998.
Fights Breaks Sphere written by 27-year-old author Tiancan Tudou ranked first on the list. Other well-known works that have been adapted into other mediums such as TV shows or movies in recent years, including Nirvana in Fire, Fighter of the Destiny and Grave Robbers' Chronicles also made it into the top 10. In the Name of People, a novel that was recently adapted into the hit anti-graft TV show of the same name, came in at 21.
According to Hoogewerf, the ranks of the works on the list were determined by looking at data such as online viewership, number of fans and the number of times a work has been recommended on literature platforms, followed by a second round of assessment during which the Hurun Research Institute and veteran literature editors gave these additional points based on their social influence and literary value.
"We conducted statistical calculation based on dozens of criteria including viewership data of the works' TV adaptations and grades on media-viewing platforms such as [Chinese media review site] Douban," Mopian's founder Wang Yuren told the Global Times on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old Cambridge Mathematics Department graduate said that works which have been accused of plagiarism or faking viewership data, or those containing "unhealthy" content were deducted points during the calculation, in order to ensure the list favored original works and reflect their chances of continued adaptations.
Booming IP market
Talking about China's IP market, Hoogewerf mentioned the Harry Potter franchise, one of the highest-earning IPs in not just his home country but around the world.
"The Harry Potter franchise and the huge industry behind it had a great impact on the British economy," he said.
"And for me, it's a meaningful thing to participate in China's IP industry," Hoogewerf said, mentioning that he hoped the list will help improve the confidence of people who are considering entering the IP industry.
For Chinese online writers, the booming IP market has brought not only wealth, but dignity as well.
"Originally, I was ashamed of being an online writer working at home," said online writer Qi Daojun, who was named the most popular romance writer of the year at Wednesday's conference and whose online series Guaren Wuji came in at 92 on the list.
"But now, I am proud to tell people what I do for a living."
According to statistics released by the institute, online literature writers on the list write as much as 10,000 Chinese characters every day, a fact which Hoogewerf said amazed him and his British writer friends.
The past two decades have seen the number of Chinese online literature platform users exceed 300 million and newly released chapters of online works reach 150 million characters daily, according to Zhang Yijun, head of the Digital Publishing Department under the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), at a press conference in January, according to a chinanews.com report.
While big-budget IP adaptations remain popular, they are not without risks as many have also been subjected to accusations of plagiarism and criticized for cliche plots and poor production values. Wang pointed out that negatives such as these were "unavoidable" considering the sheer size of the IP industry. He noted, however, that things are improving as government agencies increase regulations and consumers and IP management companies begin to demand higher quality content.
China's rapidly expanding online literature market also saw an increasing impact overseas in recent years, with book-turned-TV adaptations Nirvana in Fire and The Journey of Flower received positive receptions after arriving in countries including Japan and South Korea. The popular Legend of Zhenhuan was also reedited from 76 episodes into a six-episode Netflix series titled Empresses in the Palace.
"Based on our cooperation with foreign partners, fantasy genres and stories featuring ancient Chinese historical figures are quite popular overseas," Wang told the Global Times.