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China’s iQiyi Says AI Has Transformed Development & Production Process; Thailand’s Mono Streaming Signs MOU With Korea’s KT Studio Genie — ATF

Chinese streaming giant iQiyi has hailed the integration of artificial intelligence into its development and pitching processes.

Owned by Chinese technology conglomerate Baidu, iQiyi has been well-positioned to quickly incorporate AI into several key areas of development and production.

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The platform’s Chief Content Officer, Wang Xiaohui, told delegates at the Singapore’s Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) today that AI integration has brought startling efficiencies to its content teams and allowed for instant responses to producer pitches.

In the development phase, iQiyi uses AI to digest large amounts of text from shortlisted novels and books to produce summaries. “We can turn 2,000,000 words in a novel into an 8,000-word document that outlines the plot and includes character analyses,” said Wang.

This has shortened iQiyi’s pitch and feedback process from 3-4 days when performed by humans to just one hour with AI. The summaries generated by AI have an accuracy of 90%, added Wang.

Further down the production pipeline, iQiyi has used AI to develop character artwork and scene designs, as well as poster mock-ups to support its publicity efforts.

The use of AI has been a big talking point in film and TV circles this year, with the issue being a major sticking point in the actors and writers strikes. Many producers have been experimenting with the medium, while studios, networks and congloms have so far mainly sought to use it for business efficiencies.

Away from AI, Wang said iQiyi has shifted its priorities toward making high-quality premium content, after acknowledging that the streamer was trying to improve its quality-to-price ratio. “In the future, whether it is membership revenue or advertising revenue, they are definitely going to come from premium content,” he said.

Over the last five years, iQiyi has launched more than 100 originals, including 60 titles in 2023.

An iQiyi spokesperson said the stream has spent RMB 10B ($1.4B) per year for the past two years on original productions, and “will continue this spending trend — not lower than this mark — for the coming years.”

Wang also expressed a desire to produce more costume and historical dramas for the platform, tapping into China’s rich history and providing a unique, differentiated product for iQiyi’s audience. “China’s 5,000 years of culture can provide an endless treasure trove of stories,” said Wang. “Our Chinese market has also cultivated its own power of creation.”

iQiyi recently posted RMB8 billion ($1.1 billion) in total revenues and operating income of RMB746.7 million ($102.4 million) for the third quarter of 2023.

Pan-Asian Partnership

Elsewhere at ATF today, Thailand’s Mono Streaming unveiled a Memorandum of Understanding with KT Studio Genie, the content production subsidiary of Korean telecom giant KT.

The pan-Asian partnership will focus on content creation and distribution. The partners say it signals a recognition of Korean content’s global soft power and the desire for Mono Streaming to look beyond local shores to develop original content.

“We would like to work on projects that show the soft power of Thailand and Korea together, and with any other partners, to get to the next level,” said Mono Next CEO Patompong Sirachairat. “Thailand already has several well-known aspects, like Thai food, Thai actors and Thai sports.”

Studio Genie’s CEO Kim Chul-yeon was present on stage alongside Mono Next’s CEO Patompong Sirachairat during the announcement. The Korean studio’s biggest title so far is Extraordinary Attorney Woo, which broke viewership ratings domestically on the ENA network and was a hit on Netflix.

Beyond the MOU, Sirachairat told delegates that Mono Next is seen in Thailand as the “new kid on the block.” While the service started out offering 100% acquired content, Sirachairat outlined the company’s ambition to have at least 30% original content and launch 15-24 original titles per year.

A key audience demographic for Mono Next is the 35+ age bracket. which has pushed the company to offer dubbing in Thai for 100% of its shows and provide bundling options with local telcos. The company also owns MONO29, a 24-hour domestic channel.

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