I’ve seen some people asking where to watch Chinese dramas so I thought I’d compile a list of my favorite sites to watch them on. These are all sites where content is being legally posted by the content owners and include subtitles to help non-Mandarin speaking fans.
Fortunately a lot of the production companies have started to include English subtitles for content more quickly for content so, despite the death of Dramafever, there are actually a lot more online options than there were two years ago. Some of these sites even have apps for your Roku, Apple TV, iPad or phone so you can watch from your TV or while traveling. And many of these are free as well. Check out the list below for the sites and examples of some of the titles they offer.
Because almost all the Chinese production companies and streaming sites have channels on YouTube, the majority of Chinese content I watch is on YouTube. You can watch it free, though due to the increase in ads (every two minutes it seems) I actually paid for a Premium account ($10 a month in the US) so that I wouldn’t get anymore ads and I love it!
It’s also been especially nice to see a lot of the channels starting to include English subs either as soon as it’s posted or within a week of posting new episodes. And, for the most part, the English sub quality has improved in the last two years. I’ve also seen some subs coming up for Spanish and other languages as well on some channels. I often see subs available on YouTube before they are ready on Viki. And there are often behind the scenes content available as well, some also with subs. Besides dramas, you can also find movies, variety and reality shows on the various CCTV channels as well.
Some channels to check out:
Chinese Drama Global TV – The content here will be mostly from the previous year, but they do offer English and Spanish subs. Current shows: Wait In Beijing, My Contract Girlfriend
Haushi TV – Current shows: Love of Thousand Years, Ming Dynasty, Ever Night
Hunan TV – You can find dramas, reality and variety shows here. Current shows: Happy Camp, Love and the Emperor, Singer 2020, Under the Power
Kukan Drama Channel – Current shows: Well-Intended Love 2, Winter Begonia, Eternal Love of Dream (aka Three Lives, Three Worlds: The Pillow Book)
Tencent Video – Current shows: Castle in the Sky 2, Eternal Love of Dream, Forget You Remember Love (They also have links to regional channels under the WeTV name for other languages include English and Spanish.)
YoYo Television – Current shows: Skate into Love, Joy of Life
感谢订阅中剧独播 – This has mostly series from last year. Current shows: Wait in Beijing, The Story of Ming Lan, All is Well
Netflix has been actively gathering content from all over the globe so they have a good selection of Chinese dramas and movies, though they tend to go for titles that have either been more popular (or at least more PR) and usually don’t have them available until long after they’ve aired with a few exceptions. They also seemed to have picked up some of the Dramafever content like the “Love O2O” series. If you search under “chinese dramas” or “mandarin” or other search terms, you can find content though I wish their search options were a little better as they often will throw in Korean titles in as well. I assume most of the content I can see on the US site is available in other locations so here are a few examples of titles you can find:
Dramas: The King’s Avatar, Handsome Siblings, 2 Fathers, The Untamed, Meteor Garden, Princess Weiyoung
Movies: Shadow, Love O2O, Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Fathers, The Wandering Earth, Shanghai Fortress, Animal World
This site has probably catered to international fans the longest. Viki licenses Chinese drama content and then lets volunteers create the subs. More popular series get subbed right away while other series may take a few weeks or longer to be subbed. You can watch for free and get a few commercial breaks or pay $5 or more per month for an account depending on the level of access you want. I used to pay the $5 per month, but as I haven’t been watching as much content there lately, I switched to free.
They do tend to carry a lot of the more anticipated Chinese dramas which get subbed pretty quickly along with some older content that they are still in the process of subtitling. I was also happy to see them now making the movies available for people to watch without a paid account as they have some titles I like or have been wanting to watch. Some of the titles available include:
Dramas: Go Go Squid, Three Lives, Three Worlds: The Pillow Book (aka Eternal Love of Dream), Skate Into Love, Under the Power, Well-Intended Love 2
Movies: Till the End of the World, Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon, Reset, Witness, Hello Mr Billionaire
If you have an Amazon Prime account, you can find quite a bit of Mandarin-language content though more so in movies than in dramas. There is also a lot of content available for rent (some even as low as $1). You can find the follow titles and more:
Dramas: Ming Dynasty, Legend of Fuyao, Story of Yanxi Palace, I Will Never Let You Go, Royal Nirvana, The Legend of Haolan
Movies: Detective Chinatown, Dying to Survive, The Wasted Times, Black & White: Dawn of Justice
Besides their YouTube channels, Tencent also has a WeTV website and app where you can watch their dramas with subtitles. I watched The King’s Avatar using their app on my iPad and was able to get subtitled content before they even posted it on YouTube. The subtitle quality still needs a little work, but it was nice to be able to watch the content sooner and not have to wait for subs.
Current shows: Eternal Love of Dream, Novoland: Castle in the Sky 2, The Untamed, Forget You Remember Love
Along with their regular Chinese language site and app, iQIYi also has an app that streams dramas and movies in multiple languages on your mobile device or Apple TV. Similar to Viki, you can watch for free with intermittent commercial breaks without charge or subscribe to watch content sooner. Right now I’ve opted to use the free option. The subtitle quality is pretty good as well.
Current shows: My Roommate is a Detective, Everyone Wants to Meet You, The Love Lasts Two Minds
Last year it was announced that a new Chinese entertainment channel called Bambu was due to come out this summer. It will be interesting to see what kind of content and subtitle options they’ll be offering.