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China’s iQIYI Expands Streaming to Taiwan

Chinese video streaming giant iQIYI is to launch in Taiwan, its first territory outside mainland China.

The company held a launch event Tuesday in Taipei to announce the new venture which kicks off immediately.

Founder and CEO Gong Yu explained that Taiwan is the second largest Chinese-speaking market after the People’s Republic of China. The operation will be headed by director general Yang Ming and offer 11 content channels: theater, movies, variety, animation, entertainment, comedy, children, trailers, travel, documentaries and iQIYI productions. Subscribers will be offered three packages of different durations.

Taiwan, with a population of 23 million mainly Mandarin-speakers, has been self-governed since 1949. The government of the PRC considers it to be a rebel province with which it will ultimately be reunited, by force if necessary.

In the last few years the economies of the two have grown closer and within the entertainment sector talent and finance has increasingly flowed across the narrow strait.

iQIYI is a subsidiary of Mainland Chinese search giant Baidu, though it is currently in the process of taking itself private. The company reports over 500 million monthly users who use its advertising-supported platform and over 10 million monthly subscribers.

Smaller mainland rival, Le Eco has expanded aggressively into to Hong Kong market with content that ranges from movies and series to sports. In a dramatic move it acquired Hong Kong rights to English Premiere League soccer, though in practice it will have to relicense some rights to PCCW’s pay-TV platform nowTV.

iQIYI says that in order to make its over the top service more attractive to Taiwanese viewers it will increase the amount of local content it carries. It will also strengthen relationships with Taiwan’s production companies and talent.

The island’s Chinese language entertainment resources have increasingly become the focus of international and multinational groups. Earlier this year Netflix launched its streaming service in Taiwan. Last week, locally based rights and distribution company Catchplay announced that it was launching an OTT streaming service first in Taiwan, with Singapore and Indonesia to follow later this year.

At the end of 2015 China-based, U.S. entrepreneur Dan Mintz announced a $600 million takeover approach for Eastern Broadcasting Corporation, one of Taiwan’s largest cable TV platforms. That deal is still awaiting regulatory approval.

Taiwanese media report that European-based online video platform Dailymotion is also to launch in Taiwan this week.

They also report that Taiwan’s phone providers Chunghwa Telecom and Far EasTone are stepping up their video offerings and providing OTT solutions.

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