iQIYI, a Chinese video streaming platform, lost an astounding $1.3 billion in 2018. The company is owning up to it, citing higher-than-ever investments on the creation of new content for its users. Rapidly rising subscriber number and revenue numbers show that the strategy is reaping results – however, the company’s burn rate is cause for concern for many.
After it’s March 2018 NASDAQ IPO (NASDAQ: IQ), the company has completed its first full fiscal year. It almost tripled its losses vs. those it posted in 2017 – with $506 million of the total coming in the last quarter alone. Its total revenue grew an also impressive 52%, to reach $3.6 billion.
iQIYI runs a free-to-use model for content hosting, with ad support and optional paid subscriptions. Said subscribers grew a total of 72% year-on-year, reaching 87.4 million with 98% of them being on paid subscriptions. In 2017, the number closed at 50.8 million.
CEO and founder Tim Gong Yu said: “We are confident in generating growth across the board, led by membership services which has demonstrated continued momentum. We maintain our strategic focus on producing original premium content, and will continue to advance our technology innovation and nurture our ecosystem to fully leverage the tremendous IP value in our content.”
iQIYI’s CFO, Wang Xiaodong, added the following: “Membership business continued to be the main engine driving our growth… 2018 was also a transition year for us, as we devoted more resources towards producing original content which added pressure to our margins. We believe our investment in premium content will prove to be very rewarding and help better position the company for long-term growth.”