GMA 7 collaborates with streaming service iQiyi International for catch-up platform
Aiming to further boost its digital presence and provide viewers with a catch-up platform for its marquee titles, GMA Network recently signed a multiyear contract with iQiyi International—an on-demand entertainment streaming service that focuses on Asian content.
With the partnership, new episodes of select GMA 7 programs will now be available on the iQiyi app or website (iq.com) within 24 hours after they air on the network’s free-to-air television channel.
The video service, which reportedly has 500 million monthly active users, is expected to carry at least 12 shows within the year, including the current Sanya Lopez starrers “First Yaya” and “Agimat ng Agila.” Upcoming soaps “Legal Wives,” “Nagbabagang Luha” and “Love You Stranger” will also be added to the catalog as they make their premiere.
“We had been exploring Filipino content for more than a year now … This year is exciting. We had been hibernating for so long, productionwise, since the pandemic hit. Lots of shows had to be paused, and rightfully so, because of safety reasons. But we’re getting back on our feet,” iQiyi Philippines country manager Sherwin de la Cruz said in a virtual conference.
For GMA 7 executive Reena Garingan, the introduction of an on-demand platform allows the audience to have more flexibility in terms of viewing preferences: Watch what you want when you want it.
“If you’re doing something and watch the show on television at its airing time, you will have to wait only less than 24 hours before you can catch up on what you missed. You can also watch past episodes,” she said.
“This [partnership] is important because it will improve our reach on different platforms,” Garingan added. “If you don’t own a television set, but you have your phone, you can just open the mobile app, or go on the internet and watch.”
Asked if she believed that making the programs available on iQiyi would eventually eat away on GMA 7’s television viewership, Garginan said the two entities would be complementary to each other.
“It won’t have a negative effect … People are used to shows being aired on television at certain time slots, and they typically prefer watching together with their families. They also want to be up-to-speed with the discussions [about the shows]. But if they, for instance, miss some parts of an episode, they can go to the iQiyi … And they can watch it a second time if they want.”
PH as entry point
For now, GMA content will only be accessible to iQiyi users in the Philippines. But regional availability will always be on the table.
“We will focus on the Philippines as an entry point to the partnership. But as we move forward, we want to bring these titles to other countries and regions, as well, such as Hong Kong or the Middle East, where there are ready markets already,” De la Cruz told the Inquirer. “Then, you also have Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam.”According to De la Cruz, iQiyi collaborations with other local content producers aren’t in the offing, saying that the platform’s partnership with GMA 7 has only “scratched the surface.”
“The reason it took us long to lock in the deal is that it’s crucial for us to see how our output would look like in the long haul,” he said.
“There are so many more things to do with GMA … more to announce soon,” De la Cruz said, adding that coproductions and original content are worth studying for the future. “We were discussing the idea of bringing Kapuso talents to Asian regions or maybe doing an Asian talent competition.”
Aside from GMA 7 shows, iQiyi users in the Philippines will also have access to an extensive lineup of Asian dramas, films, anime and variety shows from South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, China, Thailand and Malaysia.
“Contentwise, Asian is the focus. Home is where the heart is. And when we watch Korean content, for instance, we can relate more quickly, because our values are similar and we often see those things—respect, love for family—in the story lines,” De la Cruz said.
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