iQiyi Launches Education App, Aiming at the Crowded Online Education Market

The new educational product, shown here on a Chinese-language app store, offers content and services spanning a broad range of disciplines. (Source: Weibo)

Chinese video platform iQiyi recently launched an app called “iQiyi Education” to the iPhone’s app store, dedicated to providing children’s animation, audio books and online classes, in addition to other content and services.

Developed and operated by Beijing Bianzhi Education Technology Co., Ltd., the educational app is suitable for users of all ages to enjoy customized education services through their mobile phones or tablets, and share efficient learning methods with their social network. The new app has benefited from cooperation with many famous teachers from reputable colleges, according to its official introduction.

Bianzhi Education introduced various learning modes on the app to create a great user experience. In the live stream class, students can offer feedback to real-time teaching and maintain close interaction with their instructors. The pre-recorded teaching videos of famous teachers assist students who aren’t able to attend class at a fixed time.

Compared with other online education products, iQiyi Education’s scope of disciplines is broad, including popular science, English, mathematics, history, and more. Academic celebrities, education masters, actors and singers all feature on the platform, fueling fresh impetus to users burdened by examinations or work.

Various online study lounges have been gaining in popularity recently, due to their effective communication methods and deep specialization. Platforms called Costudy, Timing and Classmate currently enjoy the most active users, with much anticipation regarding a comparable service offered by the new iQiyi Education app.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a strong factor propelling the expansion of China’s online education market. According to data published by iiMedia, the number of online education users in China will reach 446 million this year. The large market has attracted attention from range of domestic video giants, including Youku, iQiyi and Tencent.

At the beginning of 2020, in response to a statement by China’s Ministry of Education entitled “ensuring learning is undisrupted when classes are disrupted,” many online education brands adopt Tencent Video and Youku Video as useful channels for online education. Youku worked directly with the public service system of national digital education resources managed by the National Center for Educational Technology to bring nearly 2,000 free courses to teachers and students across the country.

Tencent Video, along with 41 high-quality institutions, previously launched a “Have Class at Home” program, aimed at providing over 100 courses free of charge for preschool, primary and secondary school students nationwide.

In January this year, iQiyi set up an independent online education company – Bianzhi Education – which integrated services including an education channel launched in 2012, iQiyi Knowledge, TVguo (电视果) and MengZhuangYuan (萌状元). The company’s core purpose is to build an online education content distribution and operation platform.

Gong Yu, iQiyi’s CEO, said that “education and entertainment are two different ecosystems. We notice that there is still huge room for online education. Innovative business models, active users and technology are the three highlights of Bianzhi Education.”

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According to a financial report previously disclosed by iQiyi, in the first quarter of this year, the company’s revenue reached 8 billion yuan ($1.24 billion), a year-on-year increase of 4%. However, its net loss reached 1.3 billion yuan ($202 million) over the same period. By the end of the first quarter, iQiyi has garnered a total of 105.3 million paying subscribers. Given these developments, analysts have predicted that iQiyi may try to use the online education service as an additional profit channel.

At present, although online education enjoys a large market space, many Internet giants such as Tencent, Alibaba and ByteDance are all vying for a slice of the pie. Given the tough competition, iQiyi may face great challenges in the future.