iQiyi Takes A Stand Against Bytedance, Tencent with New Vertical Video Channel

Chinese video streaming platform iQiyi has launched a new channel in its mobile app dedicated to portrait mode viewing, as it moves to take on short-video platforms that helped popularize the format.

In a statement, iQiyi Chief Content Officer Wang Xiaohui said the company believes portrait videos are becoming one of the most important forms in online entertainment.

The company looks to grab a larger share of China’s burgeoning short-video market, moving into territory dominated by platforms including Bytedance’s Douyin, known as TikTok internationally, and Xigua Video, as well as Tencent-backed Kuaishou.

iQiyi’s latest move into short-form and vertical videos comes amid a noticeable shift in video consumption behavior among Chinese viewers. According to a report from consulting firm iiMedia, the rising popularity of short-form videos—which popularized vertical style—is in line with increasing mobile-first consumption among Chinese internet users.

“As technology changes the way people view content, entertainment platforms must respond to these changes by reassessing the way content is presented,” Wang said.

iQiyi founder and CEO Gong Yu acknowledged the importance of the format at a conference in Shanghai last November, saying that around 70% of users view content on their phone in portrait mode. He added that the vertical video trend would not only include user-generated videos but also expand to professionally-produced content.

The new channel, dubbed Vertical Zone, is divided into four categories, including youth-focused content, talk shows and variety shows, comedy, and lifestyle-focused videos. Unlike other platforms that include vertical content, it does not include user-made videos.

Vertical zone features a selection of 25 online TV series including the company’s self-produced comedy show “Ugh! Life!” which is comprised of 2- to 3-minute videos. The show premiered in November and was the company’s first series shot in portrait mode. The new channel also features clips of interviews and behind the scenes footage from original shows including “The Rap of China.”

The company said it had converted massive quantities of horizontal video into the vertical format.

According to a report from consulting firm iResearch shows that China’s short-video market is projected to reach more than RMB 30 billion (around $4.5 billion) by 2020.iQiyi said it is committed to producing vertical video content in the coming years and is planning to release 20 new series across multiple genres.


–This article originally appeared on TechNode