By Evan DeSimone
Chinese streaming platform iQIYI, has stuck a 10-year content deal with the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), scoring another point in the rapidly escalating content arms race that has overtaken the Chinese online video space in recent months. The programming play taps into the sport’s rising popularity in the country.
The deal, which doesn’t go into effect until 2017, will allow iQIYI to distribute more than 2000 women’s tennis matches as well as highlights footage, interviews with players and coaches and other supplemental content created by the WTA’s in-house media team. Although the deal is described as non-exclusive, it does make iQIYI the only current streaming distributor of WTA content in China.
With the Chinese online video space rapidly consolidating through a series of high profile platform acquisitions in recent months, competition for content has similarly escalated. For its part, iQIYI has inked multi-year content deals with a wide range of western publishers, including Lionsgate, Universal, and Jukin Media. In the wake of its recent acquisition by Chinese search giant Baidu iQIYI has committed to adding over 40 new shows to its catalog, including both original productions and licensed foreign content.
The deal with the WTA is a savvy move for the streamer given the rising popularity of tennis among China’s growing middle class. While the deal is not exclusive it does add a valuable content hook to iQIYI’s offerings will potentially opening up a lucrative new front in China’s escalating content licensing war.