Zimuzu and media industry in China

Darrell William DAVIS, Yueh Yu, Emilie YEH

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Zimuzu (字幕組, ZMZ) are Chinese online communities that share subtitled versions of foreign television and movies, often within hours of domestic release. Although unauthorized and unlicensed, the programs are streamed and downloaded on tablets and smartphones, free of charge. ZMZ allow many thousands of Chinese viewers to devour foreign fare (e.g., Prison Break, Desperate Housewives, The Big Bang Theory), sidestepping official channels of circulation. The volunteerism of ZMZ subtitlers is remarkable and distinctive, and it may not be too much to call ZMZ an industry. We propose understanding ZMZ within the spheres of marketization and the regulatory framework of China’s media industry. In scale, organization, and professionalism, ZMZ typify slippage between state regulation and market-driven media consumption.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMedia Industries
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • China
  • Community
  • Distribution
  • Regulation


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