Netflix has grown at a phenomenal rate, and is now present in over 190 countries around the world, but one rather large market has eluded it: China. Until now, at least.
The streaming service hasn't managed to launch in China, but it has found a way to get its shows there. It's signed a deal with Chinese streaming service iQIYI – under the terms of the deal, a subset of original Netflix series like 'Stranger Things' and 'Black Mirror' will be shown in China on iQIYI.
Netflix says that its co-operation "will be subject to the relevant regulations on online streaming of imported drama and film content in China".
iQIYI is one of China's biggest streaming platforms – a subsidiary of Baidu, China's biggest search engine, it has more than 500 million users. So Netflix's shows will certainly be put in front of a lot of eyeballs. It's likely Netflix – hampered by tight Chinese state regulation – is using this as an exercise in building brand awareness.
But this is exactly what Netflix said it would do. In a recent letter to shareholders, the service said it would have to rethink China and work with existing service partners within the country instead of launching there itself. It's not the first western firm to take this path. Lions Gate Entertainment – the studio behind 'John Wick: Chapter 2' and 'La La Land' – also licenses its content to iQIYI. It seems there's no way around those strict state regulations.