China's iQiyi looks abroad after hitting 100 million paying subscribers

By Pei Li and Brenda Goh
FILE PHOTO: Sign of Chinese video-streaming platform iQiyi Inc is pictured at the Beijing International Cultural and Creative Industry Expo, in Beijing

(This June 24 story corrects to add company clarification that iQiyi's partnership with Netflix has ended, not ongoing. Removes quote which suggested that partnership was ongoing.)

By Pei Li and Brenda Goh

BEIJING (Reuters) - 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 programs, 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 Inc 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.

Under that partnership, which iQiyi said had expired in September last year, Netflix had streamed some of its content through iQiyi's site.


(Reporting by Pei Li and Brenda Goh; editing by Uttaresh.V)