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China Daily Website  

Goodbye icecream, hello I stream

Updated: 2014-09-13 07:19
By Raymond Zhou (China Daily)

Because websites offer serial programming with commercials, which is the same model as television, and offer films for a fee, especially for premium titles, the former is fast replacing traditional TV while the latter is still gaining traction. Previously, IQiyi had licensed titles from the film festivals in Shanghai and Hong Kong, and its best result was with Little England, the biggest winner of the Shanghai affair. Executives at iQiyi reveal the difficulty of negotiating deals with each participating film, sometimes obtaining a limited license (for one week or so).

Most of the titles it secured the rights for were known quantities that had already been amply screened and awarded.

China's regulating body is realizing faster than filmmakers the great potential of the online platform. It has just decreed that a permit has to be secured to stream imported movies and television series starting from April 2015. Many filmmakers may regret that they held their noses at the wildwest possibilities when they existed.

No matter how volatile the regulatory environment, the building of a pay-per-view model, which many of China's video content providers are striving for, will benefit both filmmakers and film lovers. Films screened to an empty house may not boost anyone's ego, but films clicked by an online viewer may bring in real revenues. And the retail price is unbeatable. At 5 yuan a pop, the same as buying a low-quality pirated disk, or 20 yuan for a monthly subscription, it will lure users not from cinemas, but from pirates. Besides, you don't have to put up with the small image on your mobile gadget or notebook computer. With a set top, you can watch it on the giant screen in your sitting room.

Now, the next milestone will be a movie that makes a decent profit from online streaming alone. With iQiyi and other video sites jumping into the fray of film production, the day will come when one of their own movies, rather than an imported one, will get this honor.

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