China's iQIYI to Purchase or Produce 40 New TV Shows in 2016

iQIYI recently purchased online rights to 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2'

China's fiercely competitive online video space has emerged as a lucrative sales channel for Hollywood.

Chinese online video service, iQIYI said Thursday that it plans to boost its paid subscription offering by buying or producing 40 new shows in 2016.

The company, a subsidiary of Chinese search giant Baidu, said it will spend half of its annual budget on the content ramp-up. What sort of mix between Hollywood and local content it would seek to acquire, the company didn't say. 

China’s streaming video market has expanded rapidly in recent years, and top services, including iQiyi, have launched subscription services for their premium libraries of licensed content. Last week, 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.

According to iQIYI, its video services serve 500 million monthly users and some 5 million paying subscribers.

The company also announced Tuesday that Chinese stars, Yang Yang, Angelababy and Huang Bo will become image ambassadors for its subscription business. 

"We are confident that subscription revenue will become a major revenue source for iQIYI, and we will continue to invest to provide the best premium content and user experience for our paid subscribers," said Xianghua Yang, iQIYI senior vice president.

Over the past year, iQIYI has also begun producing content in-house. It's original TV series Notes of Tomb Raiders attracted some 2.4 billion views over the summer. The company's next series Shu Shan Zhan Ji is being offered to paying subscribers in advance of a planned cable TV broadcast next year — another effort to boost iQIYI's subscriber base.

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

China's fiercely competitive online video space has emerged as a lucrative new sales channel for international content producers. In July, iQIYI bought Internet broadcast rights to 800 existing and future movies from Paramount.