Friday 01 Dec 2023
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KUALA LUMPUR (July 19): Chinese video streaming platform iQIYI on Wednesday (July 19) announced the launch of its first offline parent-child theme park in Beijing developed based on its popular self-produced animation intellectual property (IP), five months after launching an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience based on its television drama in Shanghai.

QiBubble Space — the 6,000 sq m theme park featuring Babydino Tales and Dudangman that opened in Beijing’s Yanqing district on July 14 and provides users an immersive entertainment experience — marks iQIYI’s “latest exploration in pursuing IP commercialisation”, according to a statement on Wednesday.

 "The iQIYI QiBubble Space transforms the figures that children used to only see on screens into real companions, allowing families to play games and enjoy each other's company in real life. This signifies a significant milestone as more of iQIYI's original IPs come to life in the offline world. Starting with iQIYI QiBubble Space, iQIYI will continue to expand more children's entertainment content offline throughout the country," iQIYI founder and chief executive officer Tim Gong Yu said in the statement.

Positioned to be a family vacation destination in Beijing, the iQIYI QiBubble Space aims to create an open and inclusive offline space that encourages children to explore the world around them, nurturing their inquisitiveness and the willingness to engage, while prioritising parent-children interaction to meet the needs of millennial parents, according to the statement, noting that the theme park “taps into the potential of the broader Yanqing region” with local cultural tourism offerings and purpose-built hotels.

“Curiosity cultivated during childhood can become a lifelong superpower with lasting benefits,” said Xue He, the founder of iQIYI QiBubble Space, in the statement.

Wednesday’s statement did not say how much iQIYI invested in the QiBubble Space venture, if any, or if it receives equity or royalty payment from the usage of its animation IPs.

Gong — who founded iQIYI in 2010 and prefers the term “Netflix plus” or “online Disney” to "China’s Netflix" when introducing iQIYI — told The Edge in an interview in 2020, however, that even before Disney’s theme parks were hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, iQIYI was considering licensing its IPs to people who want to build theme parks rather than do it themselves because the latter is “too capital intensive”. “We prefer to concentrate on expanding and building up our ecosystem of content and IPs from literature to comics and games,” Gong said back then.

Its project that was launched in February this year in Shanghai by iQIYI’s Dreamverse studio takes up a much smaller space of only 300 sq m. The “thrilling 50-minute VR-powered journey”, based on iQIYI’s 2021 television drama Luoyang that is set in the ancient Chinese capital city of the same name, reportedly combines immersive theatre, VR and physical equipment that allows participants to, for example, shoot arrows at “enemies” in a fantasy world complete with waterfalls, explosions and strong winds.

When reporting its results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2023, Nasdaq-listed iQIYI Inc's chief financial officer Wang Jun said in a statement on May 16 that “both total revenue and membership service revenue reached all-time highs”, even as operating income expanded for the sixth consecutive quarter while the operating cash flow expanded a fourth consecutive quarter. “We have improved our profitability, cash flow and balance sheet, and we aim to create more value for our stakeholders,” he said in the statement.

Backed by Baidu Inc — sometimes referred to as China’s Google — iQIYI had 128.9 million average daily number of total subscribers (derived by averaging the number of total subscribing members in each day of the quarter) in the first quarter of 2023 (1Q2023), higher than 101.4 million in 1Q2022 and 111.6 million in 4Q2022. Excluding trial memberships, the average daily number of subscribers was 128.1 million in 1Q2023, above 100.8 million in 1Q2022 and 110.9 million in 4Q2022. The monthly average revenue per member was 14.35 yuan (RM9.08) in 1Q2023, lower compared with 14.69 yuan in 1Q2022 but above 14.17 yuan in 4Q2022.

Net income attributable to iQIYI was 618.1 million yuan in 1Q2023, compared with 169.1 million yuan in 1Q2022, even as revenue rose 15% year-on-year to 8.3 billion yuan. 

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