iQiyi commits to making more Singapore content

Chinese video-streaming service to work with S'pore firms to distribute shows globally

(From left) iQiyi ambassador Lawrence Wong, iQiyi's vice-president of sales Frankie Fu, iQiyi's vice-president of international business Kuek Yu-Chuang, and assistant chief executive for media and innovation at IMDA Howie Lau. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Video-streaming service iQiyi has committed to making more Singapore shows and distributing them globally by working with local production houses.

The Chinese company made this announcement yesterday at the launch of its international headquarters in Singapore.

While the details have yet to be firmed up, iQiyi has plans to make "more Singaporean stories with Singaporean settings", said Mr Kuek Yu-Chuang, 41, vice-president for international business at iQiyi.

Started in 2010, iQiyi has been described as the No. 2 player in China's video-streaming market, with 104.8 million subscribers as at September.

The declaration follows the filming of its first Singapore collaboration, The Ferryman: Legends Of Nanyang, with local production company G.H.Y. Culture and Media. It is slated for release next year.

Adapted from iQiyi's 2014 show Soul Ferry, the drama series stars Lawrence Wong from the popular historical drama Story Of Yanxi Palace, with local actors Qi Yu Wu, Tay Ping Hui and Xiang Yun.

Local production houses and the media authority welcomed the move to collaborate and innovate.

"A lot of local media companies have tried to penetrate the China market, which isn't easy due to the many rules... and the different audience there," said Mr Lim Teck, 45, managing director of Clover Films.

"Partnering an established company like iQiyi is helpful to Singaporean firms as it has the know-how on making content work in China. In turn, we can help to distribute content to parts of South-east Asia."

Mr Howie Lau, assistant chief executive for media and innovation at the Infocomm Media Development Authority, said: "This is an exciting time for Asian content, and iQiyi's anchoring in Singapore is testament to the attractiveness of our city state as the place for leading corporations to expand their regional presence."

As a technology company, iQiyi plans to expand into South-east Asia and beyond.

This began in June last year, when its international app made content available in languages such as Thai and Vietnamese.

Mr Kuek said: "We've chosen Singapore to anchor our international operations as Singapore's connectivity and reputation as a prime talent hub makes it the ideal gateway to ramp up our global operations."

He hopes to grow the current staff of 25 to more than 200 in the next five years. Apart from Singapore, iQiyi has offices in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Manila, Dubai and Toronto.

iQiyi chief executive Gong Yu said the company is also expanding its international team in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2020, with the headline iQiyi commits to making more Singapore content. Subscribe