Baidu-owned iQIYI, widely regarded as a Netflix of China, has announced that it secured exclusive online broadcasting rights in China for six films nominated by this year’s Golden Globe Awards, including the acclaimed “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and “The Shape of Water.”
This means film buffs will not be able to watch these films through the other Chinese video platforms such as Alibaba’s Youku-Tudou and Tencent Video. The video streaming sector in China has become hotly contested as players clamor to squeeze out competitors with big checks for exclusive rights, patents, as well as original productions.
Earlier this year iQIYI also picked up exclusive China rights to “La La Land” and “Moonlight”, two clear favorites among the film critics in 2016.
“Through the precise prediction of AI and big data, and coordination between our experienced procuring teams, iQIYI will continue to capture quality movie resources, delivering a more international angle and more superior content,” says iQIYI in a statement.
Protectionism has prevented Netflix and Amazon from entering China, but even local players are not guaranteed to import foreign content without a hitch. Ahead of China’s top-level political reshuffle in October, several major streaming sites took off the majority of their foreign dramas and movies, either at the government’s behest or voluntarily. Piracy crackdown is often cited as the official explanation, but insiders reckon the cleanup might also be a result of protecting China’s domestic content and giving media watchdogs more ideological control.
According to data from QuestMobile in June, iQIYI topped the ranks for users with a 36.6% penetration rate. Tencent Video and Youku followed at 32.9% and 13% respectively. The war on exclusive rights, coupled with affordable subscription fees, has prompted Chinese users to pay for more than one video streaming services.