Annual revenue of the paid online video market in China 2012-2019

Paid content has become a driving force in China's online entertainment market. In 2017, the revenue of the paid online video sector was about 22 billion yuan. It was estimated to reach up to almost 60 billion yuan in 2020.

The fights and struggles

In China, more than 600 million people were watching online video content as of December 2018. Pay-TV channels have a much narrow choice of content compared to free online video platforms. Due to a low monthly subscription fee, pay-TV operators have a limited budget to invest on their content. The lack of imminent competition has given free room for online video sites to thrive. Tudou and Youku were one of the pioneers in the sector. They merged into Youku Tudou when iQiyi and Tencent Video arrived on the market. Financially backed by Alibaba, iQiyi was able to take the exclusive streaming rights of many foreign blockbuster titles. It did not take long for the “Netflix of China” to overtake Youku Tudou’s dominance in the online video market.

A feasible roadmap

Recently, iQiyi has shifted its focus to premium domestic productions. The mega-hit historical drama "Story of Yanxi Palace" brought a considerable amount of paid subscriptions to the platform, pushing its mobile app version to be one of the top apps in China. However, the online paid video competition remains intense with soaring content costs. TV dramas and movies will continue to be the major pillars in the market. To attain new members, well-established platforms need to produce and acquire strong original content.

Revenue of China's paid online video market from 2012 to 2017 with estimates until 2019

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Release date

March 2018



Survey time period

2012 to 2017

Special properties

the data is based on the financial results published by enterprises, interviews with experts and iResearch‘sstatistical model.

Supplementary notes

* Estimate.

Note: 1 yuan equals approximately 0.16 U.S. dollars and 0.13 euros (as of July 2018).

According to the source, paid online video revenue includes revenue generated from user consumption, as well as joint operations such as web games or show rooms.

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