Will China’s Ban on “Boys’ Love” Programs Hurt Luxury?

What Happened: Beijing’s National Radio and Television Administration published a press release on January 7 that bans idol talent programs and Boys’ Love (BL) dramas. Authorities will soon begin dedicated inspections in the fields of online film and television dramas, short videos, and livesteaming to create a “healthy and clean” internet environment for users.

Netizens immediately ignited debates on the subject across most of China’s social platforms. The Weibo hashtag of the news quickly became one of the internet’s hottest topics, garnering 480 million views over one day. Some support Beijing’s clampdown, while others consider censorship without any rating system as “excessive” and unfavorable to the development of the cultural and entertainment industries.

The Jing Take: This crackdown on idol competition shows wasn’t the first. In August 2021, the Chinese video streaming platform iQiyi stopped broadcasting all its idol competition programs. Then in September, China issued a notice to put a lid on these shows as well. This latest move against idol shows and BL dramas indicates China’s commitment to calming down crazy fanbases as well as investors who were capitalizing on idol and BL cultures.

But despite the speed and scope of Beijing’s crackdown on the domestic entertainment industry, those fan communities are still there. So how should brands navigate China’s market and reconsider their celebrity collaborations while minimizing potential scandals and controversies? To begin with, they must maintain their connections to these relevant consumer segments. But they must also scout out alternative narratives within the scheme of China’s new official guidelines.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.


Market Analysis