Chinese streaming service iQiyi unveiled on Tuesday (December 15) its Singapore office at Robinson Road, which will serve as its regional headquarters.
Kuek Yu Chuang, iQiyi’s vice-president for its international business shared that the firm currently has 25 employees, and it plans to hire over 200 staff in Singapore in the next five years.
He added that iQiyi will be “expanding (into) a whole range of functions here”. Without revealing specific details, he hinted that “content is going to be a big part” of it.
iQiyi plans to make more Singapore shows and distribute them globally by working with local production houses.
Its first Singapore collaboration is with local production company G.H.Y. Culture and Media for the filming of The Ferryman: Legends of Nanyang, which is expected to release in 2021.
The drama series features Lawrence Wong from popular historical drama Story of Yanxi Palace, who will be acting alongside local stars Qi Yu Wu, Tay Ping Hui and Xiang Yun.
This collaboration follows iQiyi’s recently signed three-year memorandum of understanding with Singapore Tourism Board to market Singapore as a destination in China and other key markets.
Additionally, iQiyi said that it will also be ramping up its sales, marketing and business development to better engage global audiences.
iQiyi Is Second In China’s Video Streaming Market
Founded in 2010, iQiyi is the top two player in China’s video streaming market with 104.8 million subscribers as at end September.
While it is ranked second in the market, iQiyi has yet to break even for the past 10 years. In fact, its latest quarterly earnings showed drops in revenue and subscribers, which caused its shares to also plummet.
iQiyi began its expansion into Southeast Asia and beyond in June last year. It currently has several global offices, including Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Manila, Dubai and Toronto.
“We’ve chosen Singapore to anchor our international operations as Singapore’s connectivity and reputation as a prime talent hub makes it the ideal gateway to ramp up our global operations,” said Mr Kuek.
Besides iQiyi, many other Chinese giants are also establishing offices in Singapore despite the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes Chinese giant Tencent and TikTok’s parent company ByteDance.
Separately, it is reported that both Alibaba and Tencent are in talks with Baidu to acquire a controlling stake in iQiyi. According to sources, Bytedance is also exploring the same deal.
Discussions have apparently stalled because Baidu allegedly demanded a valuation of around US$20 billion, but Tencent believes that the company is worth about only half of that.
In China, Tencent Video is ranked the top player in the video streaming market with a penetration rate of 45 per cent at the end of 2019, according to research firm BlueCatData.
iQiyi comes to a close second with 43 per cent, and Alibaba’s Youku is ranked third with 27 per cent.
Featured Image Credit: China Film Insider