Chinese streamer iQiyi has unveiled a massive new content slate with some 260 films, TV series and variety shows that it says capture the Zeitgeist and youth realities.
Chief among the new programming are two collections that the company likened to a metaverse, which are “able to transfer people into another world through immersive stories.” One of the new universes focuses on traditional Chinese stories and is referred to as the ‘ancient Chinese City universe.’ The other, known as the ‘Light On’ Universe is focused on thriller stories.
The new breed of shows aspire to forge new relationships between viewers and content, use boundary-breaking technology to enable interaction between characters, scenes, and stories, and make viewers into active participants who experience stories and evolve along with the content.
The new shows were unveiled Friday in Shanghai at the iJoy conference that resembled a tech company hardware launch. The company said that integrating technology and content represents the future direction of entertainment. And with some 70 in-house production firms either acquired or started up, the company has considerable leverage to make its vision happen.
In March, it launched The9 “X-City” an extended reality concert, backed by its XR technologies that achieved a high level of immersion and real-time interaction between fans and The9, a girl group created by iQiyi through its “Youth With You 2” reality show.
New drama series straddle four main genres: epic, hero, history, and romance, with titles including “A Lifelong Journey,” “Life is a Long Quiet River,” “Vacation of Love 2,” “Piercing The Dark,” “A Love Never Lost,” and “The Wind Blows from Longxi.”
The ‘Light On’ suspense universe will introduce titles including “The Pavilion,” “Wisher,” “Who is the Murderer,” and “Gold Panning.” The ‘Laugh On’ universe includes famous local comedians for titles including “De Yun Theater and The Comic Bang,” “The Accidental Physicians,” and “The Lord of Losers.”
Variety shows come in a range of flavors and include music shows “Metaverse Singer,” “The Rap of China 2022” and “Music Campus,” and “suspense variety shows” such as “The Detectives’ Adventures 2” and “Game of Shark 2,” that leverage technology and allow young people to engage online.
Continuing shows included: “Mr. Housework 4,” “Be with You 2,” “Yes, I Do 3,” and “Working Mom 2” which the company says “provide nuanced portraits of young people in the different stages and aspects of their lives.”
Majority-owned by Baidu and separately listed on the NASDAQ stock market, iQIYI is a powerful player in China. In its most recent financial report, the company claimed 105.2 million subscribing members. It is not clear if that figure includes subscribers overseas in territories such as Thailand and Malaysia where its separately-run iQiyi International is beginning to make some headway.
The company’s finances, however, remain troubling. In over eleven years, it has failed to turn an annual profit. And iQIYI’s latest share price of $8.50 is less than half of the company’s 2018 $18 per ADR IPO price, leaving its current market capitalization at $6.66 billion.