The video platform that fired Mr. Zhao, iQiyi, had a catastrophic quarter, losing around $ 268 million. Its stock price has fallen 85% from its 2021 high, reflecting investor concerns that the company, which once aspired to be China’s Netflix, will run out of shows that can attract more subscribers. and advertisers.
“The biggest problem for our industry is the severe shortage of content,” Gong Yu, general manager of iQiyi, told analysts in November. He blamed, in part, the slow approval of the censors. IQiyi did not respond to requests for comment.
(Mr. Zhao confirmed details on his social media account, but declined to comment further.)
Many film, television and streaming projects have been canceled or killed over increasingly severe and unpredictable censorship concerns, people in the industry have said.
Beijing writer Lilian Li said Tencent and a studio working with iQiyi approached her last year to create a streaming series based on one of her story novels. Weeks later, the two companies told him they decided not to continue because there was little hope of securing censor approval for a landmark series. She said she received significantly fewer collaboration requests from content providers in 2021.
Chinese content creators always joke that they dance with chains, which means they are trying to keep censors happy while gaining audiences. It is now clear that whatever the creative concessions, nothing guarantees that their projects will see the light of day.
One of the most anticipated films of the 2021 Christmas season has had to change its name to “Fire on the Plain”, from “Moses on the Plain”, possibly due to its reference to Christianity. Then four days before its release, the production team said it had been postponed without giving an explanation.