Even as platforms and games like Bytedance’s TikTok and Krafton’s Battlegrounds Mobile India, along with hundreds of other apps with links to China—both real and imagined—are banned in India in batches, iQiyi, the wildly popular Chinese streaming service, still available in India at local prices Entrackr have found.
It is not clear when iQiyi was launched in India, but the service, referred to as “Netflix China” offered at regional prices in India, provided through the company’s subsidiary in Singapore.
iQiyi is a major player; it is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and has a market capitalization of $3.1 billion, according to data by Morningstar. It’s unclear how many customers the service has in India, but the company doesn’t appear to be doing much country-specific marketing here, even though it’s available at regional prices. Monthly pricing for the service in India starts at Rs 449. The Mainland China version of iQiyi is also available in India, but only accepts Chinese payment methods.
Most importantly, the service has cut corners on another key aspect: complying with Indian laws. iQiyi does not appear to be in compliance with the Information Technology (Intermediary Obligations and Digital Media Code of Conduct) Rules, 2021, which establish regulations for streaming services serving users in India.
The service does not have an age rating mandated by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, does not offer an India-specific complaint mechanism with a designated complaint officer for the country, and does not appear to be part of the three levels of self-regulation. mandated structure for Indian streaming services.
An iQiyi spokesperson did not respond to questions from Entrackrincluding whether the company pays GST for subscriptions it sells in India, or whether the company has subsidiaries in India.
Most of the content on iQiyi is Chinese TV series. The platform is large and powerful enough that even though Netflix is not available in China, Netflix often licenses its content to iQiyi. The Chinese company has also dipped its toes in the Korean drama market, co-producing My Roommate is a Gumiho, a series that has over 900,000 viewers per episode in South Korea alone.
Asian dramas, especially Korean dramas, are growing in popularity in India. In the first week of August, the top three non-English series on Netflix in India were Korean dramas, with Extraordinary Attorney Woo, an ongoing series, take the top spot.
Even Viki, a small K-drama focused streaming service owned by Japanese e-commerce conglomerate Rakuten, in accordance with IT Rules.
The IT rules themselves are questionable, as they have worrying consequences for freedom of expression in India. But the Indian government’s persistence in pursuing Korean game publisher Krafton over whispers of Chinese involvement while the streaming giant actually listed on China’s NYSE operates right under its nose while ignoring Indian laws is important.