iQiyi’s hit costume drama, “Story of Yanxi Palace” has captivated Chinese audiences with the 70-episode series being streamed more than 15 billion times.
The online series, which is set in the Qing dynasty and includes tales of intrigue within the palace, was the most watched online drama in China for 39 consecutive days. The series averaged 300 million views a day and peaked at more than 700 million views on its biggest day.
The series popularity has extended beyond mainland China and is being viewed in 70 countries and is one of the most watched licensed Chinese language dramas on YouTube.
The co-production between Chinese online entertainment platform iQiyi and Huanyu Film Works, has been distributed to major TV channels and platforms across Asia and was the most watched program on Hong Kong’s TVB.
It has even been credited with driving a surge in visits to Yanxi Palace, which is located within the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Gong Yu, the founder and chief executive officer of iQiyi, credited the program’s success to the company’s decision to cast lesser-known actors, rather than relying on the “celebrity appeal” of well-known stars.
“The remarkable reception seen by the show proves that this was the right choice, once again validating iQiyi’s focus on producing and selecting only the highest quality content. This is the model that iQiyi has always adhered to, and we will not swerve from this vision – Chinese entertainment fans know that the iQiyi brand is a mark of great content.”
The series has been a significant boon for iQiyi as it faces intense competition against rivals Youku and Tencent Video in China's hugely competitive online video market. Recent research by eMarketer, named Tencent Video as the leader in China’s subscription over-the-top (OTT) video market, ahead of Youku and iQiyi.