US streaming firm Netflix has struck a licensing deal with a local video streaming service in China – as part of its attempts to penetrate what is regarded as a notoriously difficult market sector for the organization that has enjoyed huge success on a global basis.
It was officially announced that Netflix had brokered a deal with iQiyi.com, and the collaboration between the two parties will enable Netflix to introduce original content to the country. Netflix had previously struggled to break into the Chinese market, largely due to the fact that streaming services are subject to strict data shortage regulations and foreign films and television are routinely censored.
A spokesman confirmed that content air times will parallel with other regions, but declined to disclose any further information in relation to the agreement between Netflix and iQiyi.com. Netflix had played down the possibility of its entry into China in the past year - despite its otherwise rapid global expansion.
In October co-founder and Chief Executive Reed Hastings said that prospects for a direct streaming service in the country were slim, and the firm had made no progress in obtaining government approvals. However, this agreement has subsequently enabled Netflix to find a new stopgap method of getting its material and content into the country via the Beijing-based video service iQiyi.com – which is a subsidiary of Baidu.
iQiyi.com is one of China's largest streaming services and is backed by search giant Baidu Inc. In February it raised 1.53 billion to take on local rivals in a hotly contested market. This month Netflix forecast a global increase of 3.2 million subscribers in the second quarter, far outpacing analysts' estimates of nearly 2.4 million.