Tencent aims to become biggest shareholder of video streaming rival iQiyi, sources say
- Chinese social media and gaming leader Tencent has approached iQiyi’s 56.2 per cent owner Baidu to buy a stake of as-yet undetermined size, a source says
- It is not immediately clear whether Tencent has approached iQiyi or what the full nature of any cooperation would entail
“A tie-up would improve their bargaining power when producing and purchasing content, and lower marketing costs that would otherwise be spent on grabbing users from each other,” the person said.
Plans are at an early stage and subject to change, said the people on condition of anonymity as the information was private.
Search engine firm Baidu, iQiyi and Tencent declined to comment.
The potential deal – reported here for the first time – would join two of China’s biggest media forces, with each boasting over 110 million paid subscribers at March-end.
Taken together, China’s online video market is set for 2020 revenue of 156.6 billion yuan (US$22.1 billion), according to iResearch.
Tencent Video has made several hit series such as the The Untamed and owns the broadcasting rights of HBO’s Game of Thrones, while iQiyi original variety shows The Rap of China and The Big Band have been major topics on social media.
iQiyi booked an 11 per cent rise in content costs in January-March versus the same period a year earlier, while revenue growth slowed to 9 per cent from 43 per cent. The firm, which has yet to break even in its 10-year life, recorded a net loss of US$406 million.
By comparison, Bilibili, which targets a younger demographic with videos of gameplay and anime, enjoyed a 69 per cent revenue rise.
Should there be a need to raise capital to finance growth, iQiyi believes deteriorating Sino-US relations would deter investors, including main backer Baidu, one of the people said.
iQiyi Chief Executive Gong Yu in December said US investors made up of 70 per cent the company’s total.
Baidu itself is considering delisting from Nasdaq amid the diplomatic tension and moving to an exchange closer to home to boost its valuation, sources told Reuters last month.
(Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post.)