iQIYI teams up with Media Prima and Celcom in bid to lead streaming race

IQIYI International has tied up with Media Prima's content production and distribution arm Primeworks Studio, and Celcom Axiata to grow its content footprint in Malaysia. The multi-year partnership with Primeworks Studio offers iQIYI exclusive first window broadcasting rights to majority of TV3's locally produced primetime dramas.

At the same time, Media Prima Omni has also been named iQIYI's non-exclusive advertising sales partner in Malaysia. The partnership will enable iQIYI to offer tailored packages for both standalone streaming and OTT advertising as well as bundled solutions with Media Prima’s linear TV.

Under the Media Prima collaboration, licensed TV3 titles will be made available within a dedicated tab within the iQIYI app for local content, which is also accessible on web browsers. The local tab is expected to house more than 1,000 hours of premium local content by the end of 2021.

Additionally, iQIYI users in Singapore and Brunei can also view the upcoming Ramadan and Raya TV3 specials, Sabarlah Duhai Hati and Cukup Derita Itu, as well as titles including Hari Mencintaiku 2 and Budak Tebing. Aside from broadcasting rights, both parties will also work on a streaming-first special series titled Shah Alam 40000, offering iQIYI viewers exclusive and free access to the series before it airs on TV3 later in the year.

Media Prima Television Networks' chief content officer, content and creative, Nini Yusof said the partnership with iQIYI is very much in line with its digital expansion strategy, reaching a wider premium audience not only within but also beyond Malaysia.

Separately, Celcom Axiata has come on board as the official telco partner for iQIYI's flagship variety production Youth With You 3, which features celebrities such as BLACKPINK's Lisa, Taiwanese singer Will Pan and Chinese singer Li Ronghao. Singapore is featured as the exclusive destination partner for the show following a deal inked between the Singapore Tourism Board and iQIYI last year. The iQIYI-Celcom partnership also includes additional joint product offerings to complement its existing direct carrier billing relationship.

T.Kugan K. Thirunavakarasu, Celcom's chief emerging business officer, said it is mindful that customers are looking for products and content that add value to their lifestyle and keep them connected at all times. "We believe that our strategic alliance with iQIYI will further strengthen Celcom’s position within the mobile and convergence space," he added. A+M has reached out to iQIYI for additional information on the partnerships.

Between August 2020 and February 2021, iQIYI said it was ranked as Malaysia's most downlaoded OTT streaming app across the App Store and Play Store. While iQIYI declined to comment on the exact monetary value of the partnerships, Dinesh Ratnam, iQIYI International’s country manager for Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei told A+M that they are "of significant value" and the collaboration "was some time in the making".

"It was conceived to primarily address the growing adoption of OTT, demand for local content while leveraging tech infrastructure to bring to our audience an on-demand, immersive and seamless viewing experience," he explained.

It plans to use extensive promotions on its website and mobile application to promote the partnerships, mainly by directing in-app traffic towards the local tab which hosts all Primeworks Studio content. This includes push notifications, in-house ad inventory as well as aggressive social media and influencer activation.

IQIYI will also tape into the respective strengths of its partners. Celcom, for example, will activate its network and integrated marketing channels. As for Media Prima, multi-channel campaigns will be rolled out spanning TV, radio, and digital media, including social media. Celebrity engagements with those headlining Primeworks’ titles will also be optimised.

When asked about the key measurement metrics it will implement to determine the partnerships' success, Ratnam said it will take into account viewership of the titles within and outside of Malaysia given that Media Prima's content will be streamed in Singapore and Brunei.

He also added that the two collaborations "have natural synergies" that allow the team to "deliver tremendous value and leapfrog iQIYI" towards the goal of being a mainstay driver of the local content ecosystem and build deep, long-lasting relationships with users and partners.

“We are committed to delivering the best in Asian entertainment and have seen our Korean and Chinese content resonate with audiences not only in Malaysia but across Southeast Asia. Conversely, what we are also seeing is a growing appetite for Southeast Asian stories in China. Therefore, besides catering to our local audiences, we also hope to provide a platform for the global export of local content, allowing homegrown producers to reach an international audience," Ratnam added.

Just last week, the streaming service tied up with entertainment company G.H.Y Culture & Media to establish a talent management agency to be based in Singapore. The joint venture seeks to identify and promote talent across Southeast Asia, and aims to boost both companies' presence in the Southeast Asian media and entertainment scene. Both parties are currently working on a talent search programme across region, particularly in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. According to iQIYI, the talent search programme will be streamed exclusively on the iQIYI International platform and

IQIYI's international headquarters are located in Singapore and the company is targeting to employ 200 new individuals in the next few years. The company told A+M previously that it is hiring across content, ad sales, community engagement, marketing and partnerships.

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