iQiyi International, the overseas arm of Chinese video streamer iQiyi, used the platform of the Asian Television Forum & Market on Wednesday to reveal its first original drama series from Thailand, and an additional five from Malaysia.
To be directed by Konkiat Komesiri (“Slice”), “KinnPorsche” is a 14-part Thai crime drama about the successor within a powerful mafia family who forms a close bond with a person who unexpectedly saves his life and becomes his bodyguard. Both of course harbor secrets about their past. Action sequences are overseen by fight choreographer Sumret Muengput (“Halfworlds 2” “The Kick”).
The five from Malaysia include: “My Ofis,” a lighthearted sitcom about a wannabe rockstar who goes into corporate life, and which is produced by Longhouse Films; “Rampas Cintaku,” about a student who tries to tries to clear his debts by becoming a ‘sugar baby’ to an older businesswoman, produced by MIG Production; Tsar Asia’s “Sori Naik Lori,” about a woman whose TikTok success is in contrast to her husband’s humdrum life as a truck driver; Juita Viden-produced time-travel romance “Love You Later”; and “Restu,” from Infinitus Entertainment, about a widowed father who needs his 9-year-old daughter’s buy in before choosing a new wife.
Based in Singapore, iQiyi International is able to invest in and acquire different content from the mainland Chinese service and operate under different censorship and regulatory conditions. Its app is available worldwide and is claimed to have been downloaded more than 50 million times in 2021, but its principal commercial focus outside China has been on developing and supporting activities in Southeast Asia.
To that end it has been accelerating its commissioning of original content, notably Korean and Southeast Asian, to complement its acquired shows. In Busan, in October, the company announced its first original series from The Philippines, made in partnership with ABS-CBN, and a raft of Korean shows.
At its ATF showcase, iQiyi claimed to have has over 10 million app downloads in Malaysia and 12 million in Thailand. It did not reveal either subscription numbers or monthly active users. Analysts have recently noted the successful penetration of key markets in Southeast Asia by iQiyi and its rival Tencent’s WeTV, and signs of growing audience acceptance for Chinese-language series – a contrast with the poor overseas sales of Chinese feature films.
“We are heartened by our performance this year, which signals that more people are consuming non-English language content,” said Kuek Yu-Chuang, iQiyi’s VP of international business.
The group’s growing prowess on the international stage is in contrast with its stagnating Chinese performance and its deteriorating financial situation. In November, the NASDAQ-listed iQiyi reported deepening losses of $268 million in the July to September quarter and paying subscription numbers that were fractionally down at 103.6 million. The group does not make clear what proportion of its overall subscriber total are clients of the international service.
The group’s ADR shares closed on Tuesday at $6.24, some 65% down on the year and about two thirds below their $18 price at the 2018 IPO.