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‘Descendants of the Sun’ spurs jump in iQiyi subscribers

Korean hit drama “Descendants of the Sun” has been credited for driving up the paid membership of a Chinese video streaming site, a report showed.

The Beijing office of the Korea Creative Content Agency said that the TV series was the biggest force behind the jump in the number of paid users of iQiyi, the Chinese broadcasting and video sharing platform, citing the report titled “White Paper on Individual Consumption of Online Videos.”

The series was aired in South Korea and China simultaneously earlier this year. In China, it was exclusively shown on iQiyi.

Last December, the Chinese site announced that its paid membership surpassed 10 million. As of March this year, the number exceeded 15 million, which translates into a 50 percent rise in membership just in the span of three months -- the period that coincided with the time frame of the drama’s broadcast from Feb. 24 through April 14.

“‘Descendants of the Sun’ obviously made Chinese start to believe it is worth paying for a good drama,” said an official from the office.

Until last year, many video streaming sites in China allowed users to use their content free of charge, but since this year, they’ve changed their policy in accordance with that of the Chinese authorities to charge for content.

On iQiyi, a user was required to get a VIP membership to watch “Descendants of the Sun,” with fees set at 19.8 yuan ($2.97) for one month, and 58 yuan ($8.71) for three months. Assuming 5 million Chinese bought the one-month VIP membership to see the whole show, the site is believed to have earned approximately $3 million.

“Paid users on China’s video streaming sites daily consume online content for 4.3 hours on average, which is nearly 2.8 times that of nonpaying users,” he said. (Yonhap)