“We are pleased to expand upon our existing deal with iQIYI and partner with them to bring Universal Pictures’ diverse catalogue of films to their fast-growing subscriber base,” said Belinda Menendez, president, NBCUniversal International Distribution & Networks.
The deal further underlines the growing importance of China to the Hollywood studios, the scale of the online video sector in China and the competition between rival platforms.
E-commerce giant Alibaba, last week upped the ante when it unveiled a $4.15 billion move to buy out the shares of Youku Tudou, iQIYI’s most direct counterpart, that it does not currently own.
The likely takeover move means that all three of China’s largest online video platforms in China will soon be components of the three biggest Internet conglomerates – Baidu (iQIYI), Alibaba (Youku Tudou) and Tencent (Tencent Video).
The Chinese video platforms are also becoming some of the most important marketing vectors for theatrical movies in China. And each of the platforms has been allied with Hollywood studios and studio movies – even though distribution of imported Hollywood films remains the monopoly preserve of Chinese state-owned companies China Film Group and Huaxia Distribution.
“The addition of Universal Pictures’ films to the iQIYI platform has significantly enhanced iQIYI’s offering to its members, while iQIYI’s powerful digital capabilities have also helped to promote the studio’s titles amongst Chinese viewers,” the company said.
“This year, iQIYI promoted the library titles in the ‘Fast & Furious’ and ‘Jurassic Park’ franchises while their newest installments (“Fast & Furious 7” and “Jurassic World”) were released in theatres in China. This helped to simultaneously attract a lot of attention to the classic movies and encouraged audiences to go to theatres to watch the new films.