SEOUL, March 25 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korean TV drama “Descendants of the Sun” is expected to bring in massive revenue for a streaming website that holds its broadcasting rights in China, Chinese media reported Friday.
iQiyi reportedly bought the broadcasting rights for US$250,000 per episode.’
Even though iQiyi users may wait seven days to watch each episode for free, many people “are becoming paid members to watch the show as soon as it is released” on Wednesday and Thursday nights at 10 p.m. in China, a Chinese official said, asking not to be named.
“Fans are paying to watch the show and are rewatching it when it’s free,” the official added.
The feat is even more remarkable considering that Chinese streaming websites had offered services for free until local broadcasting authorities tightened regulations this year.
“Because Chinese people are so used to watching videos for free, the fact that so many are paying to watch ‘Descendants of the Sun’ is extremely astonishing,” the official said.
A VIP membership of iQiyi is required to watch the South Korean show. Paid membership for one month costs 19.8 yuan (US$3.04) and for three months, 58 yuan. There are other plans that last six months and more than a year, but considering the show runs for two months, people are more likely to purchase two one-month plans. With 5 million new members, that translates into about 35 billion won in added revenue, although iQiyi is likely to have made more, as not all fans would have spent the minimum amount.
iQiyi has yet to release exact figures for the increases in membership and sales.’
“Descendants of the Sun” also has set a positive precedent for future South Korean shows to be introduced to China, experts say.
While producers of the previous most popular South Korean show in China, “My Love from the Star,” charged Chinese distributors for the broadcasting rights only, “Descendants of the Sun” producers have signed with iQiyi to be paid not just for the broadcasting rights but royalties based on the show’s cumulative views on the website.
That arrangement is expected to distribute revenue more equally between South Korean producers and Chinese distributors, experts have said.
iQiyi expects “Descendants of the Sun” to amass at least 5 billion views total, production company NEW said. As of Friday, there were 1.2 billion cumulative views on the 10 episodes so far released.
“Descendants of the Sun” airs on Wednesday and Thursday nights at 10 p.m. on KBS 2TV.’