iQiyi gunning to be biggest Asian content streaming platform by teaming up with Celcom, Primeworks Studio

Celcom is now the official telco partner for iQiyi’s popular talent reality show ‘Youth With You 3.’ — Picture courtesy of iQiyi
Celcom is now the official telco partner for iQiyi’s popular talent reality show ‘Youth With You 3.’ — Picture courtesy of iQiyi

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PETALING JAYA, March 24 — Streaming giant iQiyi is aiming to become the go-to platform for Asian content through its partnerships with key Malaysian players.

The Beijing-based platform has teamed up with Primeworks Studio, the content production and distribution arm of Media Prima, which will see selected TV3 primetime dramas premiering exclusively on iQiyi to a global audience.

TV3 titles will be housed in a dedicated tab within the iQiyi app which is expected to host 1,000 hours of premium Malaysian content by the end of 2021.

The Malaysian drama series Shah Alam 40000, which tells the story of mystery and intrigue set in a wealthy, fictional neighbourhood in Shah Alam, will be the first Primeworks Studio production to premiere exclusively on iQiyi on March 29 before its broadcast on TV3 later this year.

iQiyi has also joined hands with Celcom, one of the nation’s largest telco companies, to satisfy the demand of digital-first Malaysian viewers with special offers.

Celcom is also the official telco partner for iQiyi’s flagship talent competition Youth With You 3, where trainees are put to the test under the guidance of renowned superstars like Blackpink’s Lisa, Li Ronghao, and Will Pan to debut as part of a new boy band.

One of the trainees in the latest season, Jun Liu, 23, has become a favourite with Malaysian viewers thanks to his Seremban roots and phenomenal dance skills.

Dinesh Ratnam, who is iQiyi International’s country manager for Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, said he is looking forward to iQiyi breaking new ground in Malaysia through these collaborations.

“We are a relative newcomer to the streaming space in Malaysia with big ambitions that go beyond just expanding our audience base and amassing content catalogues that showcase the best of Asian entertainment.

“We are already the fastest-growing streaming service in the country over the last 12 months, but we want to be a mainstay driver of the local content ecosystem and build deep, long-lasting relationships with our users and partners,” said Dinesh at a virtual press conference today.

iQiyi is looking to grow its Malaysian catalogue of content through its partnerships. — Picture courtesy of iQiyi
iQiyi is looking to grow its Malaysian catalogue of content through its partnerships. — Picture courtesy of iQiyi

Media Prima Television Networks and Primeworks Studio’s chief content officer Nini Yusof added that the partnership will help Media Prima content reach an audience beyond our shores and hopefully attract global exposure for Malaysian talent.

“As an integrated media powerhouse along with the nation’s largest content producer and distributor, Primeworks Studio, we believe our partnership with iQiyi is very much in line with our digital expansion strategy, reaching a wider premium audience not only within but also beyond Malaysia.

“The collaboration with one of the top global over-the-top (OTT) media services underpins Primeworks Studio’s commitment and reputation for top-tier programming and high-quality productions that appeal to a broad audience,” said Nini.

The partnership with Celcom is also timely as many Malaysians used the extra time cooped up at home during the Covid-19 pandemic to stream their favourite Asian dramas and variety shows.

According to research house Nielsen, Malaysia registered close to one million new streaming subscribers last year to make 14.1 million users in total, while iQiyi observed a total of 68 million hours streamed on its platform in 2020 alone.

iQiyi also grew its user base 15-fold from April to December 2020 and it was ranked the number one streaming app on the Google Play Store and iOS App Store from August to December last year.

Malaysian viewers have more exciting content to look forward to on iQiyi in 2021, including the Korean drama My Roommate is a Gumiho and the first Chinese-language Southeast Asian original The Ferryman: Legends of Nanyang, an adaptation of a popular Chinese web series localised with a Singaporean and Malaysian twist.

Dinesh said that while there is a strong interest in Korean and Chinese content amongst Malaysians, there is also a growing appetite for Southeast Asian stories in China and that iQiyi will invest in producing new content to meet these demands.

“We are committed to delivering the best in Asian entertainment and have seen our Korean and Chinese content resonate with audiences not only in Malaysia but across Southeast Asia.

“Conversely, what we are also seeing is a growing appetite for Southeast Asian stories in China.

“Therefore, besides catering to our local audiences, we also hope to provide a platform for the global export of local content, allowing homegrown producers to reach an international audience.”

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