Dr. Gong Yu, Founder and CEO of iQIYI, Inc. an online entertainment service in China, recently attended the 20th Asia Television Forum & Market (ATF) and delivered a keynote speech on iQIYI’s service model and growth strategy as a technology-driven entertainment platform, as well as his outlook for the development of the Asian and global entertainment industry.
“We believe that Asian culture is the next culture to become a global phenomenon. Therefore, we hope that through internet and technological innovation, iQIYI and its partners will be able to promote Asian culture to more overseas audience and facilitate its better, stronger, and healthier,” said Dr. Gong in his speech at the ATF.
As Asia’s premier entertainment content event, each year the ATF gathers industry leaders and experts to share and exchange views on the latest about creating, protecting and selling a format or content in the region. The 20th ATF kicked off in Singapore on December 3, 2019 and was attended by approximately 700 firms from more than 55 countries and regions. Dr. Gong’s keynote was delivered as the opening speech for the Event’s leadership summit, a key segment of the Event that explores the movements and outlook of Asia’s content industry with key-decision makers of influential entertainment industry companies.
Technological innovation as the drive of entertainment development, using 5G+AI to create a new entertainment experience
As China’s leading technology-driven entertainment brand, iQIYI provides daily services to an extraordinarily large userbase. At present, iQIYI has over 180 million daily independent active devices, an accumulated daily average use time of over 350 million hours, and more than 600 million monthly independent active devices. iQIYI has also officially launched its overseas expansion by entering the Southeast Asian market this year. Dr. Gong remarked in his speech that he believes technological innovation is the driving force behind the rapid development of the online video industry.
At iQIYI, AI technology has already been applied to PGC and UGC production, user experience enhancement, as well as monetization methods. With approximately 80 million devices simultaneously logging into the iQIYI system during peak hours, the application of AI technology allows the platform to service such a large userbase effectively and allow the platform to run in a more performance and cost-efficient manner. AI technology plays an important role in the production phase of PGC. For example, reality show footages are usually taken by 40 to 90 cameras on set, producing an extremely large amount of footage for editing. AI technology can automatically filter out unusable footage, helping significantly shorten the time-consuming process of manually selecting footage.
“The past two decades of the online video content can be summed up through the act of simply transferring movie and TV content that have existed for the past century or so onto the internet. No revolutionizing innovation has been achieved in the online video industry yet, but I believe that this is about to change,” said Dr. Gong in his speech. “With the development of technologies such as 5G and AI, I’m certain that content innovation unique to online videos will appear in the future.”
Establishing diversified business model with strong original content matrix
With rapid growth, innovations and promising potential in content development and business models, the Asian entertainment market has increasingly been attracting international attention. During the ATF, Dr. Gong gave audiences an overview of iQIYI’s IP ecosystem and its diversified business model.
iQIYI’s platform provides its users with a wide array of services including videos streaming, social networking and content cooperation. The Company adopts the Subscription-based Video on Demand (SVOD) model to provide paid members with premium content, and uses the Advertisement-based Video on Demand (AVOD) for other content. So far, iQIYI has successfully launched multiple popular premium content productions including Tientsin Mystic, Burning Ice, The Rap of China, Hot-Blooded Dancing Crew, Youth and The Pluto Moment. These not only helped attract different user groups for iQIYI, but have also cultivated many talented young creatives and actors/actresses, which has helped establish a solid foundation for iQIYI in content production.
The IP ecosystem of iQIYI’s not only meet the various needs of users, but also enables the Company to maximize its revenue through a diversified monetization model. Aside from video content, iQIYI also provides various entertainment services such as literature, comics, light novels, and ticket selling. According to the Company’s estimation, there will be four times more users of a game if it shares the same name, genre and characters with a film or TV show. iQIYI also estimates that in the future, around half of the drama series will be adapted from novels, comics and light novels in China. iQIYI has been fostering a literary adaption ecosystem that combines literature, pictures, videos and gaming, and extends the IP monetization function in diversified ways such as adapting video content into official licensed products or merchandise, and by adapting games into video content. For the 2018 fiscal year, iQIYI’s total revenues were RMB 25 billion, of which 42% came from membership services, 37% from advertising, and the rest coming from content distribution and other revenues including novels, comics, gaming and e-commerce.
iQIYI running three operating models to tap into international markets and promote Asian culture through technological innovation
With ongoing growth in content investment by operators of cable TV and online video in the global market, the number of subscribers in North America and China continues to break new highs while the demand for streaming media in the Southeast Asian market is also booming. Providing entertainment services to a global market has become an irreversible trend for the future development of leading video-streaming platforms.
In June 2019, iQIYI officially launched its global iQIYI App and powered global operations through three operating models, including operations by iQIYI’s local team, joint operations with local partners and an app system enabled SaaS model. iQIYI is committed to strengthening international cooperation across borders, having recently reached a strategic partnership with Astro, a leading media platform in Southeast Asia. The collaboration will capitalize on the advantages of both parties to provide high-quality content and experience to local users in the region, and launch a customized operations plan to cater for the Malaysian market.
At the ATF, Dr. Gong expressed his wish for iQIYI to work closely with more overseas partners in different ways in the future. For example, under the SaaS model, iQIYI can provide technical services to partners while partners can provide access to local brand to jointly launch new media services. “The universal popularity of Hollywood culture could explain the rapid global expansion of Netflix, with Hollywood culture at its core. The next set of cultural values with a wide global reach are yet to be seen,” Dr. Gong remarked in his speech. “We believe that Asian culture is the next culture to become a global phenomenon. Therefore, we hope to gain access to international markets through internet and technological innovation, either using our own brand or local brand, to promote Asian culture to more overseas audience and facilitate its better, stronger, and healthier development.”