Baidu-backed video streaming service iQiyi tops 5 million paid subscribers
Highlighting China’s growing demand for online video, iQiyi, a subsidiary of leading Chinese search engine Baidu, has now attracted five million paid subscribers, the company said on Tuesday.
The announcement came just one day after Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba disclosed plans to build a major online video streaming service in China, similar to HBO and Netflix in the US.
“The success of iQiyi’s paid subscription model demonstrates the strong demand of the Chinese audience for online-video platforms with high-quality content.” said Yu Gong, founder and CEO of iQiyi.
Gong is not alone is spotting this untapped revenue stream. Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has already brought a number of video and content providers under the shadow of Alibaba, the group he founded.
In April, Alibaba acquired one of the largest cinema ticketing system suppliers in China. Twelve months earlier, it snapped up 16.5 per cent of Youku Tudou, one of the largest online video players in China. It also holds a 20 per cent interest in Shenzhen-based Wasu Media, a cable and internet TV business.
Now, competition in this field is speeding up.
iQiyi said it plans to beef up content and acquire 1,000 titles from Hollywood this year. It has also unveiled plans to make seven movies in China and one in the US before the end of December.
Five major players in China have embarked on shopping sprees for premium content, Gong said, pointing to iQiyi, Youku Tudou, Tencent, Sohu and LeTV.
LeTV, one of mainland China's largest entertainment portals, is splashing out up to HK$1 million (US$129,000) per episode on its locally produced television dramas in Hong Kong as it expands in the local market.
Tencent said earlier this month that it would grow its online concert service this year in an attempt to attract music fans, at a time when other competitors are focusing on dramas and reality shows.
However, rivals like LeTV and Youku Tudou are already testing the water by also broadcasting concerts online.