India's Eros elbows its way into China through content-licensing deal with iQiyi

BENGALURU • Movie production house Eros International on Monday said it is partnering China streaming service iQiyi to provide Indian movies, such as Bollywood blockbusters Devdas (2002) and Dabangg (2010), in the country.

Netflix signed a similar deal last year with iQiyi, which is backed by China's Internet search company, Baidu.

Eros did not disclose financial terms of the deal, but said its streaming service, Eros Now, will license its catalogue of Indian movies, which Chinese viewers will be able to watch by next month.

Eros Now, which has rights to more than 5,000 movies in various Indian languages, has 10.1 million paid subscribers in India.

Chinese viewers will be able to watch about 100 movies within the next month and that will increase to about 1,000 in the next year.

"We are targeting about US$10 million (S$14 million) in revenue in the first year through this deal," Eros International's chief executive officer Kishore Lulla said.

Streaming services in China are subject to strict data-storage regulations and foreign films and television are routinely censored, hindering companies such as Netflix and Amazon.com's Prime from taking full advantage of the world's most populated country.

Foreign companies usually partner a Chinese company to gain a foothold in the world's second-biggest economy.

"Until the whole regulatory environment changes in China, I want the Eros Now brand penetration within the Chinese audiences through this deal," Mr Lulla said.

"Within the next two to three years, when the regulatory environment will allow Eros Now to be launched directly to the Chinese audiences, we will do that in a partnership with any of the online platforms in China," he said.

China has become an important market for the Indian film industry, the world's largest by output, and recent movies such as Dangal (2016) attracted a lot of attention in the country.

iQiyi , which has about 500 million monthly active users and whose programming includes music reality show The Rap Of China and crime drama Burning Ice, listed on Nasdaq in March.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2018, with the headline 'India's Eros elbows its way into China through content-licensing deal with iQiyi'. Print Edition | Subscribe