Asia’s tech-savvy population is more connected than ever, with video streaming being an essential part of life. Recent research from SpotX revealed that close to 400 million people are using video streaming services across the region, with a majority of OTT viewers watching over two hours of content per day.

In a crowded OTT space, iQiyi is one of the leading platforms that doesn’t just serve up content but helps other companies monetize their offerings. The brand’s white label artificial intelligence (AI) and big data-driven Service-as-a-Software (SaaS) solution caters to AVOD, TVOD, and SVOD, as well as freemium, and live channels.

Anna Pak Burdin, the head of Business Development at iQiyi International shared that the OTT business is still growing. Citing a Media Partners Asia (MPA) report, Anna predicts the whole revenue from the video business will grow to over $50 billion by 2025. She believes that there will be digital transformation, especially for traditional businesses.

anna pak burdin
Anna Pak Burdin. Courtesy of iQiyi.

“We’ve seen the numbers, and we see the business potential,” said Anna. Citing the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 where businesses like cinemas had to close and filmmakers were limited in their monetization services, iQiyi saw it as a window of opportunity not just for the company, but also for its customers. 

“We thought it was a great window of opportunity for us and our potential customers as we can diversify our business. We can create a new revenue stream and we can optimize our investment. For our customers, it means that we can guarantee the lowest barriers to enter this market to share the OTT pie,” Anna explained.

OTT is not an easy game

Launching an OTT platform involves money, talent, technology, and a platform. Whilst having all of these is great, it all boils down to having an excellent user experience. 

Anna shared, “This is what we want to do with SaaS, it’s all in one end-to-end solution. And it’s definitely about user experience. iQiyi has been in the OTT business since 2010 and we know how to build the OTT business and how to scale it because we have millions of users. So why don’t we share our experience and technology with our partners?” 

The business development head said that iQiyi’s SaaS platform is driven by AI and big data. The latter allows the brand’s partners to know the user, and how to build a better strategy for acquisition and retention.

Anna added, “You know how difficult it is to retain users on the OTT platform. Our solution is built in a way that our partners would have the solution, so the customer can highlight their content at its best.”

Premium VOD as an opportunistic collaboration

iQiyi launched its Premium VOD (PVOD) service in China in February 2020, becoming the first streaming platform to adopt the PVOD mode for new releases, which cater to users’ needs to watch newly-released cinema movies at home. 

Anna shared that streaming services in China had a roller coaster journey in 2020. With the coronavirus pandemic resulting in a lockdown in a bid to control the spread of the virus, people were forced to stay home, driving viewership numbers up. However, once the lockdown was lifted, iQiyi noticed a decline in user’s visiting time, affecting membership growth.

With a shortage in theatrical releases and cinemas shuttered, iQiyi decided to launch its PVOD service as it allowed them to satisfy the demand for new content. At the same time, the service allowed filmmakers to monetize their content. 

“For us, PVOD is an opportunity to collaborate with filmmakers and the rest of the industry. In this ecosystem, we are happy as an OTT platform and filmmakers feel the same for having a new revenue stream. Meanwhile, users have access to new releases,” Anna said. 

Notable collaborations

Anna noted that what they do differently from other platforms is their SaaS business offering. Enjoying great success in the partnership with Malaysia’s Media Prima, iQiyi provided the Malaysian broadcaster with its SaaS solution for their digital transformation. The broadcaster operates various businesses such as content production and digital trading.

“We provided the white label solution for their platform, and for iQiyi, it’s an opportunity to work with such great partners like Media Prima because we have different kinds of collaborations with them. On the content side, it allowed Media Prima to showcase and monetize their content in the market, making it a high-class technical solution and upgrades the consumer experience for users in Malaysia,” Anna said.

To learn more about iQiyi’s SaaS solution, visit their official website.