Netflix Lands First China Licensing Deal with Baidu's IQiyi

  • ‘Black Mirror,’ ‘Stranger Things’ could be aired concurrently
  • Netflix shares jump to record on potential distribution deal

Netflix Is in Talks to Distribute Programs in China

Netflix Inc. agreed to provide television series to China-based iQiyi.com, the streaming-video service controlled by Baidu Inc., gaining access to the only major film market that had eluded the world’s largest paid video service.

The licensing deal covers television dramas, animated series, documentaries and variety shows, iQiyi said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. Popular Netflix original content including the latest seasons of "Black Mirror" and "Stranger Things" will probably be streamed on the Chinese site simultaneously, according to the statement. The drama "Mindhunter" and animated comedy "BoJack Horseman" will also be available on iQiyi.

Netflix has been looking for a way to enter China to help build a global audience for its growing library of exclusive shows. Netflix expanded to 130 countries last year and surpassed 100 million subscribers worldwide last weekend without the benefit of viewers in China, where government censors limit the types of content available.

“All of iQiyi’s overseas partnerships will strictly adhere to Chinese regulations on film and TV imports,” Yang Xianghuang, iQiyi senior vice president, said in the statement.

Netflix shares jumped to a record Tuesday in U.S. trading. Variety reported earlier that a Netflix executive, Robert Roy, announced at a conference in Indonesia that a deal with iQiyi was in place.

Netflix shares climbed 5.8 percent to close at a record $152.16 in New York trading. Baidu’s U.S.-listed shares climbed 3.9 percent to $186.99.

While World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. agreed in June to let China’s PPTV air two of its shows and stream them exclusively, other foreign video providers have struggled to get a foothold in the Chinese market. In a crackdown on online content, regulators suspended DisneyLife, a joint venture from Walt Disney Co. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., and shut down Apple Inc.’s iTunes service last year. Disney shares rose 1.5 percent to $115.45 on Tuesday.

IQiyi competes with streaming services from Alibaba and Tencent Holdings Ltd., and the company has signed deals with Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. to distribute films online. The company plans to spend at least 10 billion yuan ($1.45 billion) in 2017 to buy and produce “super internet TV shows,” Chief Executive Officer Gong Yu said in October.

— With assistance by Jing Yang De Morel

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