A steep rise in paying subs for Chinese video site iQiyi, doubling from 5 million to 10 million in the second half of the year, reflects ongoing shifts in the company’s content strategy.
More dramas are appearing behind iQiyi’s paywall, such as The Legend Of S (pictured), acquired in a pre-broadcast window, leaving the video site’s ad-supported service increasingly geared towards general entertainment.
At the same time, iQiyi has been increasing its budget for self-produced shows, part of a growing trend in China, as part of an escalating programming outlay by the major players. This year, the country’s online video platforms produced 58 original web series.
Yu Gong, iQiyi’s founder and CEO, attributed the dramatic growth to the rise of mobile payment services in addition to the development of premium programming, combined with a crackdown on unlicensed content.
iQiyi provides 10 genres of content, but most of its audience is concentrated in two: dramas (with local productions making up 90% of viewing) and variety shows.
The site is also developing paid services in other areas such as gaming, which requires a separate subscription.
“With the rapid progress in the paid subscription model for online content, we are extremely excited about the opportunities in China’s online entertainment and culture industry,” Yu says.
“We look forward to further developing high-potential areas such as online gaming, music, education and literature.”