Many business executives responsible for content have reportedly left Chinese streaming platform iQIYI following an organizational restructuring at the end of 2021, according to Sina Tech on Friday. Several of the departing employees were the right-hand associates of the firm’s senior vice president, Chen Wei.
A mid-level worker at iQIYI revealed that the following employees have left the firm recently: Che Che, the former vice president of iQIYI and head of its YOH studio; Tan Yinzi, the general director of iQIYI‘s Scream Night 2021 Gala Event and head of Meike Studio; Yang Yang, head of the Variety Planning Department and the Variety Promotion Department; and Chen Qiyi, the director of content marketing in charge of drama and animation marketing. “Likewise, after their departure, Chen Wei’s resignation seems to be only a matter of time,” the source revealed.
However, another local media outlet The Cover learned from sources that Yang Yang and Chen Qiyi had left the company, while other business executives still stayed.
“Now iQIYI has reduced its investment in content in an all-round way, affecting drama series and variety shows. So it was no surprise that these executives left. In fact, iQIYI saw a scaling back of content investment from the end of 2021,” the source added.
“Variety content as a whole is on the downward trend. Even other platforms, not just iQIYI, suffer from a lack of hit programs this year. So the impact of their departure would not affect iQIYI that seriously,” said the source. iQIYI‘s organizational restructuring at the end of last year also diminished the impact of their departures.
At the end of 2021, iQIYI underwent an organizational restructuring for its variety business. The restructuring involved several core members, like CMO Wang Xiangjun, Senior Vice President Chen Wei and Yang Yang. iQIYI also set up a new department for variety casting.
In addition to cost reductions, iQIYI strives to open up new sources and places significant hope on its membership business. As early as the Q3 performance meeting held in November 2021, Gong Yu, founder and CEO of iQIYI, said at the performance conference call: “For iQIYI, our focus is to raise revenue and reduce costs, cut off inefficient businesses and projects, and increase and try new opportunities.” At the beginning of December, iQIYI adjusted its membership business, universally rising membership fees.
At this point, the cost reductions appear to have paid off. The Q4 earnings report showed a 17% year-on-year decline in sales, as well as general affairs and administrative expenses totaling 1.1 billion yuan ($174 million). Content costs were 4.9 billion yuan, down 5% compared to the same period in 2020.
iQIYI is not the only Chinese video streaming platform to accrue significant debt of late. Neither Youku nor Tencent Video have ever made a profit. Shortly after the price increase of iQIYI‘s membership fee, Tencent Video and Youku also raised their own prices.