iQiyi, China’s answer to Netflix, intends to push harder into overseas markets such as North America and Japan after the video-streaming service hit a milestone of 100 million paying subscribers this month, a senior executive said on Monday.
The company, which has been locked in a cash-burning fight with Tencent’s video site and Alibaba-backed Youku Tudou in China, wants to distribute more of its self-produced content in North America, Singapore, South Korea and Japan, where they were seeing growing interest in Chinese-language shows, iQiyi’s President of Membership and Overseas Business, Yang Xianghua, told Reuters in an interview.
“Given more time, I think we can have a lot of opportunities in other markets globally,” he said.
The company, which produces original TV programmes, reality shows, and online movies, announced on Saturday that it had reached the 100 million paid subscriber mark, which it attributed to its focus on acquiring viewers among the country’s elderly and rural residents.
In comparison, Tencent Video said in May that it had 89 million paying subscribers respectively while Netflix in January said it had over 139 million paid memberships in over 190 countries.
iQiyi currently distributes its content overseas through tie-ups with local streaming sites.
A bigger push overseas could eventually see iQiyi go head-to-head with Netflix, with which it signed a licensing deal in 2017. Netflix’s platform is currently not accessible in China but the US firm streams some of its content through iQiyi’s site through that partnership.
Yang said the partnership was ongoing but expressed some concern about its longevity given the current trade war between the China and the United States, and Beijing’s increasingly tight control over content in China.
“With the current environment and China’s relationship with the US, this partnership is not very sustainable,” he said. “There is a quota on how much content you can import and they are subject to censorship, so can only take it step by step.”