The company says that the soaring total reflects a growing consumer willingness to pay for online content in China. “This market has just taken off,” said Yu Gong, founder and CEO of iQIYI at an event on the margins of the Shanghai International Film Festival. This time last year iQIYI shocked the market and drew claims of doubt from its competitors when it announced 5 million subscribers.
In July, however, iQIYI launched a premium service that allows paying subscribers to get earlier or exclusive access to 29 blockbuster shows. The company has had unquestioned success with in-house produced drama, The Lost Tomb, and hugely popular Korean TV show, Descendants of the Sun. IQIYI says the two shows have been viewed 18.7 billion times in the past year.
The company announced the launch of “iQIYI Cartoon Home,” a separate app that targets children. The new kids service is offered for free as an additional benefit to its paying subscribers.
iQIYI has content suppliers that include Paramount Pictures, 21th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Hong Kong’s Media Asia and Korea’s Showbox.
The company is majority owned by Baidu, China’s largest online search group. Baidu, which has its shares traded in New York, Tuesday issued a profits warning citing the economic slowdown as a cause.