NBCUniversal Signs Movie Licensing Deal With China's iQIYI

The deal would include forthcoming titles such as 'Furious 8'

The output agreement gives the Chinese video service streaming rights to all Universal Pictures movies released in Chinese cinemas "over the next few years."

Chinese online video service iQIYI and NBCUniversal have signed a licensing deal giving the Chinese company the right to stream all of Universal Pictures' forthcoming movies released theatrically in China over "the next few years."

The agreement also gives iQIYI digital rights to an undisclosed portion of Universal Pictures' back catalog. Financial terms were not revealed.

"We are pleased to expand upon our existing deal with iQIYI and partner with them to bring Universal Pictures' diverse catalog of films to their fast-growing subscriber base," said Belinda Menendez, president of NBCUniversal International Distribution & Networks.

In a statement announcing the deal, the two companies also hyped the benefits of increased online exposure in China for Universal, noting that iQIYI promoted the Fast & Furious and Jurassic Park franchise films on its services during the lead-up to the successful Chinese releases of Furious 7 and Jurassic World earlier this year.

"We are looking forward to introducing even more great films from Universal Pictures to our members through our expanded collaboration," said Xianghua Yang, senior vice president of iQIYI.

iQIYI, a subsidiary of Chinese search giant Baidu, says its video services serve 500 million monthly users and some five million paying subscribers.

The company has over 6,000 film and TV titles in its library, 2,500 of which are major Hollywood studio productions.

Earlier this month, iQIYI signed a deal with Lionsgate for rights to a package of titles including the last Hunger Games film, the next Divergent installment and action thriller Deepwater Horizon.

It also recently announced that it plans to spend half its 2016 budget on buying or producing 40 TV shows over the next year to boost its paid subscription service.

The major players in China's online video space, including Tencent and Youku Tudou, recently acquired by Alibaba, have all been pushing users to convert to paid subscription services, as online advertising in China pays little and hasn't been able to sustain the rising costs of licensed content.

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