Netflix acquires Chinese series from iQiyi, Youku

Netflix is ramping up its acquisition of Chinese-language content through deals with China’s leading streaming services iQiyi and Youku Tudou.

The global streaming giant has acquired two original series produced by iQiyi – Tientsin Mystic, an adventure show set in the 1930s, and crime drama Burning Ice – along with film trilogy Chosen, co-produced by iQiyi and Sony Pictures.

iQiyi has also sold Tientsin Mystic, which has racked up 2 billion views in China since its launch in July, to Hong Kong broadcaster TVB for Hong Kong and Macau, pay-TV operator Astro for Malaysia and Brunei and StarHub for Singapore. Netflix has all other territories outside of China.

Produced by former China Film Group chief Han Sanping, Burning Ice stars Qin Hao and has been viewed 480 million times since it launched on iQiyi in September. Netflix has rights for Southeast Asia.

Chosen, adapted from the hit US drama of the same name, will premiere on iQiyi and Netflix in January next year and will be made available to Netflix subscribers globally.

“We are very pleased that iQiyi’s original content has been well received among international distributors,” said iQiyi vice president of distribution Chen Xiao. “In future, we are looking forward to producing more high-quality shows and bringing them to the audience both locally and globally.”

Meanwhile, Netflix has also acquired worldwide distribution rights to 32-episode thriller Day And Night from Alibaba-owned Youku Tudou. Directed by Wei Wang, the series follows an investigation into a murder that becomes complicated when it’s revealed that the chief suspect is the twin brother of the police detective in charge of the case.

The deal marks the first distribution partnership between Netflix and Alibaba and also Youku’s first Chinese-language series to be distributed globally. Netflix will stream the series, which has generated more than four billion views in China, to its subscribers in 190 countries.

In addition, Netflix has boarded a Chinese-language series produced in Taiwan, A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities, directed by Nelson Yeh and starring Tammy Chen, Peggy Tseng and James Wen.

Set between San Francisco and Taipei, the 20-episode series is being produced in collaboration with Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture, Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs and Taipei Culture Foundation. Taipei Film Commission is also supporting the $3.3m (NT$100,000) production through location scouting, securing shooting permits, marketing and other services.

Netflix is not able to operate independently in China, due to the country’s restrictions on foreign online media, but has previously sold several of its shows, including Stranger Things and documentaries Chef’s Table and Making Of A Murderer, to iQiyi.

In August, Netflix boarded its first Chinese-language series, Bardo, produced by Singapore and Taiwan-based IFA Media and directed by Taipei-based filmmaker Sam Quah.