With over 20 million subscribers, in just six years iQIYI has become a key player in China’s rapidly evolving digital landscape. A high-tech company operating in the entertainment and culture business, iQIYI is pushing the boundaries of China’s online film market. It currently provides over 30 different types of content – including film, TV series, cartoons, sport and news – and is busy building a new digital ecosystem that is already creating opportunities for new types of content creation. Xianghua Yang, iQIYI’s Senior Vice President, explains what the company is doing to connect users with an expanding range of content and outlines its ambitions for the future.
Video-streaming in China has enjoyed explosive growth in recent years. How do you explain this?
There are three main factors. First, the rapid uptake of mobile phones and smartphones – there are now around one billion mobile or smartphone users in China. Second, Internet bandwidth has improved. Since 2009, 4G mobile networks have been deployed across China. And third, the growing popularity of mobile payment systems such as Alipay and WeChatPay among Chinese users has made it easier for users to access and pay for content online.
Can you tell us about iQIYI?
iQIYI is a combination of a high-tech and a creativity company. We carry content from all around the world. Almost half of our films are Chinese but we buy a lot from the United States, Europe, India and other Asian countries. Most TV series are Chinese but we also buy in content from the Republic of Korea and the United States. We have over 30 different channels and provide 30 different kinds of content. We are very busy! We also create our own original content. For example, iQIYI Motion Pictures, established in 2014, produces films for cinema release. It has produced 10 films to date. Our Internet Film Center, established last year, produces Internet-only films – around 20 a year. And the iQIYI Cartoon Company focuses on animations and has produced three original cartoons so far. The company employs around 4,000 people. Our headquarters is in Beijing and we have offices in Shanghai and ten other cities across China.
What business model does iQIYI use?
Since our launch in 2010 we have been creating and testing new business models. At present we operate both a freemium model, which is supported by revenue from advertisements, and a fee-based subscription model. Our freemium model has over 250 million daily visitor users. And...