Baidu-backed Chinese video-streaming giant iQIYI Inc. on Wednesday announced a joint venture with Singapore-headquartered entertainment and content provider G.H.Y Culture & Media Holding Co., Limited to deepen its presence in Southeast Asia.
Executive chairman and group chief executive officer of G.H.Y Guo Jingyu said that Southeast Asia had been earmarked as a growth market and the investment will boost its presence in the region. The strategic alliance aims to identify and promote talent across Southeast Asia through initiatives such as a talent search programme, according to a company release.
iQIYI will also tap on G.H.Y Culture & Media’s expertise in the production and promotion of dramas, films and concerts in the Asia Pacific region. G.H.Y has produced several dramas and films for major TV networks and leading video streaming platforms in China.
iQIYI president of membership and overseas business group Yang Xianghua said, “with iQIYI’s technical abilities and commitment to providing high-quality Asia content to global users, and GHY’s deep experience and end-to-end production expertise, we look forward to providing Southeast Asian talents a gateway to one of the biggest entertainment markets in the world, turning them into household names.”
Both companies are currently working together to produce iQIYI’s first Southeast Asian original production, The Ferryman: Legends of Nanyang, slated to be released later this year.
This is not iQIYI’s first foray into Southeast Asia. In 2020, iQIYI opened its international headquarters in Singapore, clinched a three-year partnership with the Singapore Tourism Board and produced its first-ever Korean original production, My Roommate is a Gumiho.
In recent years, Chinese entertainment giants have been turning their focus to Southeast Asia amid intense competition in the home market. iQIYI, Tencent Video and Alibaba’s Youku, the three major video streaming platforms in China, account for over 80% of the market share in the Chinese market as of 2019.
Tencent Video, which launched its WeTV platform in Southeast Asia, acquired the Malaysian platform iflix last June to deepen its footprint in the region. While Youku is still China-focused, the company said it “will not rule out any expansion opportunities in South-east Asia when appropriate,” per a Business Times article, published in August 2020.
iQIYI’s strategic partnership with G.H.Y is expected to intensify the competition with Tencent Video in this region.
Besides Baidu, iQIYI is also backed by a total of 18 investors which include Providence Equity Partners, Sequoia Capital, Omaha Capital China, Xiaomi, Shunwei Capital and IDG Capital, according to Crunchbase data. iQIYI has raised a total of $3 billion over 9 rounds.