Hulu backer Providence invests $50M in Chinese video site launch

Nearly two months ago, Chinese-language search giant Baidu announced that it was going to launch an independent entity to provide licensed online video to Chinese Internet users. Although details at the time were sparse, the biggest-how it was planning to fund the venture-was answered today. Baidu says Providence Equity Partners-major investors in Hulu--will inject some $50 million into the site, Qiyi.

Qiyi is intended to be advertising supported, and Baidu said it will continue to maintain majority ownership in the company.

"The online video market has great potential for growth in China," said Robin Li, Baidu's CEO. "Providence is our ideal partner in this space as it has rich experience in investing in and managing businesses that distribute licensed content online. "

Baidu said the new company would work with content providers to provide copyrighted premium video content including movies, TV series, sporting events, animation and other varied content to Internet users through an advertising supported model.

Yu Gong, CEO of Qiyi, added "Online video is a rapidly growing sector in China and I believe Baidu's search platform will provide a solid foundation for the new company to address the increasing demand for premium content. I am very excited to embark on this new venture."

Interesting partnership... sound like anyone else in the business (can you say Google/YouTube?)

For more:
- see this release
- see this Washington Post article