Netflix has found a way into the world’s biggest streaming market

Image: Netflix

After being locked out of the massive Chinese market by regulators, Netflix looks set to be able to enter the country after all.

The company has signed a licensing deal with local streaming service iQiyi, which claims over 500 million monthly users.

Robert Roy, Netflix’s vice president of content acquisition, announced the deal at APOS an industry conference that is being held in Bali, Indonesia, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“China is an important market for obvious reasons; it’s also a challenging market for obvious reasons,” Roy was reported as saying by THR. “Right now what we will do is look to license content into China. We closed a deal with iQiyi, which is exciting.”

The company declined to share details of the deal, but it is understood that original content by Netflix could be available on the same day it is released in other territories.

The end to Netflix’s regulatory hurdles

The deal is a breakthrough of sorts for Netflix, given the amount of hassle the company has faced trying to break into the Chinese market.

To operate in China, Netflix would have to obtain a government license, and its original content would need individual approval from censors before any of it is streamed, according to Wired.

When THR asked whether Netflix is still seeking to have full entry into the Chinese market, Roy said: “We’d love to have [a] direct relationship in China, and it’s just a matter of when and how, and that’s something that we’re trying to figure out over time.”

Netflix’s content has become a cult hit in China despite most of it having never been officially broadcast in the country. In 2014, the company struck a licensing deal with Sohu, another streaming site, to show House of Cards to Chinese audiences.

Image: netflix

House of Cards later became the top American show streamed on the website, according to the Washington Post.

Other cult favourites from Netflix include adult animated comedy Bojack Horseman, which has accrued a firm Chinese following despite never been shown in the country. The show’s titular anti-hero is a main source of memes on Weibo, where users post episode links and even rambling reviews:

Image: Ng Yi Shu/Mashable

Despite these shows’ popularity, it’s not likely that Netflix’s content will immediately dominate the Chinese market, given the country’s widely protectionist policies when it comes to content.

State regulators pulled four hit U.S. TV shows The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, NCIS, and The Practice from streaming sites in April last year, and instituted a 30 percent limit on foreign content in September, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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