Adding to an ever-increasing list of content services available locally, Beijing-based streaming platform iQiyi is coming to Australia in May to inject Asian content into the local market.
According to iQiyi’s website, the on-demand video streaming service aims to deliver ‘beloved pan-Asian entertainment to international viewers’. The Chinese company recently opened a Singapore headquarters to serve as its international base of operations, which coincides with iQiyi’s recent expansion into more markets.
Since beginning in 2020, iQiyi’s numbers are impressive: Mumbrella reports the streaming platform as one of the biggest internationally, including ‘over 500 million monthly active users’ watching ‘6 billion hours of content each month’.
iQiyi will offer two different consumption tiers, with a free version supported by advertisements, and a premium ad-free monthly subscription of AU$7.99.
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Previous Executive VP of Sony Music Asia Pacific, Gavin Parry, is set to handle iQiyi’s Australian rollout in the position of Sun Entertainment Production’s Australian CEO.
Parry told Mumbrella iQiyi will cater to many of Australia’s Asian communities, promising a ‘deep, content-rich catalogue for the local Asian community including world-renowned drama series, movies, variety shows and documentaries, not just from China, but from across the broader APAC Region’.
In conjunction with Sun Entertainment Production’s Greg Tremain, Parry will build a local team to work on iQiyi’s business and marketing divisions.
iQiyi’s entry into the Australian streaming market will add to the already rich range of choices on offer, including Netflix, Nine Entertainment Co.’s Stan, Foxtel’s Binge, Apple TV+, Disney+, Amazon Prime, ABC’s iView, SBS On Demand – just to name a few.
Data from Media Partners Asia published by Variety indicate Netflix alone has 60 per cent market penetration among Australian households, with an expected 7.5 million subscribers by the end of 2021.
Where iQiyi will differ from the western streaming giants is in its ability to cater specifically to Australia’s growing Asian communities. Data from the Bureau of Statistics’ 2016 Census shows 2.2 per cent of Australians were born in China and 5.6 per cent of Australians identified as having Chinese ancestry.
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While many of Australia’s streaming services include some degree of international content, they typically focus on catering to western cultures. SBS On Demand, the free-to-air channel’s digital platform, is arguably the closest offering in Australia to what iQiyi is bringing, with a wide range of international content as part of regular programming.
What will be interesting to see is how iQiyi adapts, should the Australian Federal Government legislate local content quotas to streaming services. Currently, commercial broadcasters must air a minimum of 55 per cent Australian programming, subscription broadcasters such as Foxtel had their Australian drama requirements lowered from 10 to 5 per cent in 2021, while streaming services do not currently have a fixed requirement. The Federal Government is currently accepting submissions on future media reform laws.
Above all else, iQiyi will give Australian screen consumers even more content to choose from.