Founded in 2010, iQiyi is China’s most popular Netflix-style streaming service. The company has expanded into delivering video via set-top boxes and virtual-reality headsets, and in January 2019, it made a deal to have its video content shown in the Shanghai Metro transit system. Its programming will be seen across 37,000 video screens in 415 stations. It also launched its own vertical video mobile channel, feeding the growing appetite for video that is not only in the format in which users want to consume content but also high-quality clips that are professionally made rather than user-submitted.
The company is owned by Baidu, China’s biggest search engine company, and iQiyi is a pioneer in using artificial intelligence in its operations, even using it to cast characters (though not stars) in its programs.
iQiyi monetizes its video through a combination of advertising-supported content and ad-free paid subscriptions. In 2017, iQiyi struck a licensing deal with Netflix itself, meaning that it is the only platform in China to be able to offer its customers shows such as Stranger Things and The Crown. In addition to focusing on giving its members premium content, iQiyi is investing heavily in artificial intelligence as it seeks to improve its recommendation systems and user-interface experience through technologies such as natural language processing and pattern and image recognition.