IQIYI Appoints Industry Veterans as Country Managers, Eyeing Southeast Asia Market

Chinese video streaming service iQIYI announced Monday that it has bolstered its leadership team with the appointment of three new country managers who will oversee the company’s ambitious strategic growth plan in Southeast Asia.

The company has appointed Sherwin Dela Cruz as Country Manager of Philippines; Dinesh Ratnam as Country Manager of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei; and Steven Zhang as Country Manager of Indonesia. They will be responsible for the localization and development of iQIYI‘s business in these key Southeast Asian markets.

Among the executives, both Dela Cruz and Ratnam hail from Iflix, a popular Southeast Asian streamer now being acquired by iQIYI’s biggest rival Tencent video. Dela Cruz was Iflix Philippines’ co-founder and Country Manager, while Ratnam was the regional streamer’s Malaysian Country Manager. Zhang joins iQIYI from his role as Indonesia Country Manager of JOYY Inc, a global livestreaming platform. Prior to this, he held a variety of roles during his thirteen years at Huawei.

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The Chinese streaming giant launched the international version of its app in 2019 and subsequently strengthened its overseas expansion through a strategic partnership with Malaysia’s Astro. On June 11, iQIYI announced that Kuek Yu-Chuang, former Vice President of Netflix, joined iQIYI as Vice President, responsible for strategic planning, market development and public affairs of its overseas market.

Meanwhile, iQIYI’s biggest rival Tencent Video is also actively looking to expand its Southeast Asian market. According to Variety, Tencent Video completed the purchase of Iflix this June. While the Iflix brand name will continue to operate for a period of at least 6-12 months, Tencent is also promoting WeTV, its overseas version in Southeast Asia. Previously, multiple Chinese media reported that Tencent had approached Baidu, which owns 56.2% of iQIYI, with the plan of becoming iQIYI’s largest shareholder.

“How to provide cultural products favored by local audiences is an obstacle we need to tackle, while also understanding and adapting to the local market,” Yang Xianghua, president of membership and the overseas business group at iQIYI, said in a statement. He said the new appointments will accelerate iQIYI’s expansion in Southeast Asia by bringing knowledge and expertise to the local markets.

The company’s recently hit variety show Youth With You 2 had effectively broken down language and culture barriers in the Southeast Asian market. By the end of its opening week, the number of users for the international version of the iQIYI App had increased by 125% week on week. Other IQIYI‘s original web series that become popular in Southeast Asia include FOURTRY, Sword Dynasty, The Sleuth of the Ming Dynasty, My Roommate is a Detective, and The Eight.