Chinese streaming giant iQiyi is boosting its original content production with a partnership to produce a web series with Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers, and four series to be made in Taiwan this year.
Announced on Tuesday at Hong Kong FilMart, iQiyi will team up with Shaw Brothers Pictures International for the first time to produce suspense thriller “The Protector.” To be produced by Hong Kong’s TVB veterans Virginia Lok and Chung Shu-kai, the series fictional series probes the secrets behind the insurance industry. It will star Michael Miu and Bosco Wong, and location shooting take place in Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and Prague.
iQIYI has gained traction for its streaming service in Taiwan and is now cementing that position by producing original series on the island for the first time. Four titles — “Meet Me @1006”, “Befriend”, “Plant Goddess” and “Re-play” — are in different states of production and are slated for release this year. Each series comprises 24 one-hour episodes. Production of all four is overseen by veteran Taiwanese director Sam Liao.
Original series production has proved to be a winning strategy for the company, notably in helping to convert casual users who access the advertising supported version of its platform into paying subscribers. iQIYI claims 50.8 million subscribers at the end of 2017.
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Mainland Chinese search engine giant Baidu will continue to own a majority stake in the company after the ongoing IPO of iQIYI on the NASDAQ exchange in the U.S. iQIYI expects to raise some $2.25 billion, much of which will be spent on new content.