Lay Zhang's mobile variety show demonstrates the potential of portrait-mode-only programming

By Ji Yuqiao Source:Global times Published: 2019/12/4 20:42:05


Chinese singer and K-pop EXO member Zhang Yixing, also known by his stage name Lay Zhang, launched his solo variety show Reknow on short video platform TikTok on November 28. Unlike other variety shows aimed at mobile users, Zhang's new show was filmed and is meant to be watched in portrait mode. 

The newly-released show consists of 13 episodes, each of which lasts around 10 minutes. The second episode recording his tour in Las Vegas was viewed more than 3.1 million times and earned over 60,000 comments within its first hour.

The decision to frame the show in portrait mode has sparked discussion on whether changing the orientation of the screen will become a trend in the future.

This is not the first time that a show has been filmed for portrait mode. Back in 2017, several Chinese video platforms began uploading interview shows in this orientation. 

"These online programs playing in portrait mode have an advantage over traditional landscape framed videos," Shi Wenxue, a Beijing-based film critic and teacher at the Beijing Film Academy, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

 "They are more flexible and friendlier for mobile users," he said, explaining that viewers do not need to rotate their devices to a landscape orientation when they want to watch videos, which seems insignificant but is very convenient for mobile users on the go.

Shi added that the duration of most portrait-screen shows are shorter, so the production costs tend to be lower than traditional programs. 

An investigation by Unruly, a video marketing company based in Britain, shows that 53 percent of mobile phone users do not turn their phones to landscape mode while watching videos and that 34 percent of respondents have their phones locked into portrait mode. 

Another interview show Talk to Her, produced by Tencent Video, also uses the portrait format. In the show, the host interviews different people from a variety of professions. So far the show has a 9.3/10 rating on Chinese media review site Douban and has earned more than 260 million views.

Shi noted that the show's high rating and popularity is a result of the its quality interview content, but that the portrait orientation is also a factor. 

Shi noted that Zhang's show sets a precedent for other celebrities and that this format has room for further improvement and development. 

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