Eros elbows way into China through content licensing deal with iQiyi

(Reuters) - Movie production house Eros International PLC on Monday said it partnered with China streaming service iQiyi Inc to provide Indian movies such as Bollywood blockbusters “Dabangg” and “Devdas” in the country.

The logo for Chinese streaming platform iQiyi Inc., is displayed on a screen during the company's initial public offering (IPO) at the Nasdaq Market Site in New York City, U.S., March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Netflix Inc signed a similar deal last year with iQiyi, which is backed by China’s internet search company Baidu Inc.

Eros did not disclose financial terms of the deal, but said its streaming service Eros Now will license its catalog of Indian movies, which Chinese viewers will be able to watch by October.

Eros Now, which has rights to over 5,000 movies in various Indian languages, has 10.1 million paid subscribers in India.

Chinese viewers will be able to watch about 100 movies within the next month and increase to about 1,000 in the next year.

“We are targeting about $10 million in revenue in the first year through this deal,” Eros International’s Chief Executive Officer Kishore Lulla said in a interview.

Streaming services in China are subject to strict data storage regulations and foreign films and television are routinely censored, hindering companies such as Netflix and Inc’s Prime from taking full advantage of the world’s most populated country.

Foreign companies usually partner with a Chinese company to gain a foothold in the world’s second biggest economy.

“Until the whole regulatory environment changes in China, I want the Eros Now brand penetration within the Chinese audiences through this deal,” Lulla said in a interview.

“Within the next 2-3 years, when the regulatory environment will allow Eros Now to be launched directly to the Chinese audiences, we will do that in a partnership with any of the online platforms in China,” he said.

China has become an important market for the Indian film industry, the world’s largest by output, and recent movies such as “Dangal” attracted a lot of attention in the country.iQiyi , which has around 500 million monthly active users and whose programming includes music reality show “The Rap of China” and crime drama “Burning Ice,” listed on Nasdaq in March.

Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr