China Streaming Video Service iQiYi Opens First On-Demand Movie Theater

Chinese online video platform iQiYi has launched what it claims is the first on-demand movie theater in the world.

Dubbed “China’s Netflix,” iQiYi May 20 officially opened the “Yuke” on-demand movie theater in Zhongshan, Guangdong, enabling consumers to select a movie online and watch it at a Yuke theater. The six-seat theaters include Dolby audio, reclined seating and other enhanced features not available in the typical Chinese household.

China is one of the largest film production countries in the world generating nearly a thousand films annually. In 2017, a total of 970 films were produced, yet only 487 of them were played in theaters, according to iQiYi. As the national income level continues to rise in China, consumer demand for cinema viewing is rising.

The company – which is owned by China’s online search giant Baidu and launched an IPO on Wall Street earlier this year – said it working to bring Yuke movie theaters to first- and second-tier cities throughout China.

“The development of on-demand movie theaters poses an exciting opportunity to increase the strength and overall scale of China’s film industry,” Yang Xianghua, SVP at iQiYi, said in a statement. “[We] will take advantage of our strong brand awareness, massive user base, popular content and advanced technology to contribute to the growth of this booming market and extend our premium viewing experience to offline consumers.”

At the end of March, iQiYi had 61.3 million subscribers. Going forward, iQiYi said it would combine online and offline subscriber bases to integrate retail services and offline consumption with related merchandise for purchase in cinemas.

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