The news comes roughly 7 weeks after Baidu confirmed plans to established a new independent company to provide licensed, advertising-supported online video content to Chinese Internet users.
Although it isn’t yet explicitly confirming that the name of the new company will be Qiyi in the press release about the investment, Baidu says it has registered the domain name qiyi.com for the venture.
Reuters broke the news about a possible forthcoming investment by Providence Equity Partners in the new venture on January 5, citing local news sources who reported that the new joint venture company had received about $60 million in private equity funds, with Baidu investing about $10 million into the firm.
If those reports were accurate, that means Qiyi only has Baidu and Providence as its backers for now. Baidu has also said that it will continue to maintain majority ownership in Qiyi.
According to eMarketer, China will have 518 million Internet users in 2010. The size of the country’s online video market was approximately 162 million yuan ($23.73 million) in Q3 2009, according to data from research firm Analysys International, and analysts expect sales to triple in the coming years.
Update: more context on the space is available here (via comments).
Baidu stresses that it will work with regulators to ensure the “lawful distribution” of professionally produced media and entertainment content on the Internet.
From the About page:
Qiyi (www.qiyi.com) is an independent operated video website created by the world’s largest Chinese search engine Baidu Inc(BIDU.O). Qiyi intends to be a high-definition online video platform, offering the latest, the most complete, and most professional high-quality licensed content to users for free.
Under the premise of orientating correct public opinions and strictly executing the government policy and regulation, Qiyi provides diversified licensed video content and launches various channels for hit TV shows, movies, documentaries, cartoons, music, variety shows, etc., to fulfill the increasing needs from the users and to enriches customers’ cultural life.
According to the customer-oriented principle of Baidu, Qiyi aspires to reach the highest satisfaction of customers, and strives for perfection of exclusive content, reasonable products and viewing experience.
Meanwhile, Qiyi will strictly abide by copyright laws and administrative regulations, to take copyright protection measures to protect the legitimate rights and interests of copyright holders. Qiyi copyright of all content through legitimate channels such as procurement obtained.
Qiyi adopts meanwhile a series of measures to protect the legal rights of content providers and follows strictly the copyright-related laws and regulations. All videos on Qiyi are from legal channels.
Qiyi makes profit from advertisers on the websites and will also committed to developing other profit models supported by both of the users and the advertisers. The licensed online videos are totally free for internet users.
Qiyi keeps making efforts in the future operations to be the favorite video viewing platform of Chinese internet users’, and meanwhile to spread the advanced socialism culture by undertaking its social responsibility as an outstanding corporate citizen. Qiyi is playing a positive role in developing a harmonious society.
It’s just like Hulu, only with governmental censorship!
(Via press release)