(Yicai Global) Jan. 25 -- Chinese internet titan Baidu Inc. is on the brink of signing "exciting" deals with Netflix Inc. that would see more of the US producer's content make its way into China.
President Ya-Qin Zhang hinted at the possibility of bringing more Netflix content to Beijing-based Baidu's online video platform Iqiyi while he spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
China's top tech firms, Baidu, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., are battling hard to obtain exclusive content and cement themselves as leaders in the online video distribution sector. Alibaba backs Youku Tudou and Wasu Media and Tencent runs QQ Video, which has a huge user base thanks to its social apps WeChat and QQ.
Youku Tudou spends a third of its content budget on developing shows, but the actual money figure pales in comparison to the USD8 billion that Netflix plans to spend on original programming this year.
Baidu partnered the American producer and distributor last year to bring sci-fi horror show Stranger Things to Iqiyi, which has around 400 million registered users.
Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings disclosed the firm's plans to move into China as early as 2016, and began talks with regulators in the country. The latest ties with Baidu will see Netflix content hitting Chinese screens at almost the same time as those in the US.
Baidu will continue to invest in research and development in America, Zhang added, saying it will pay particular attention to its self-driving platform Apollo. The Chinese firm plans to take on 50 to 100 new staff members at its Silicon Valley center this year. The office, which focuses on artificial intelligence, is already home to around 200 workers.