In April, Netflix finally found a gateway into China, via a licensing deal with streaming service iQiyi. At the time, it was unclear what process shows would have to go through to pass the notorious censors. Now, Bloomberg reports that all episodes of Bojack Horseman, the Will Arnett-voiced animated comedy/drama, have been pulled from the iQiyi platform after airing for just two days.
The Netflix original was yanked because “Adjustments need to be made to the content,” iQiyi said in a statement to the news agency.
That the censors might object to Bojack, a satire about a 52-year-old alcoholic horse who’s also a former sitcom star, isn’t entirely surprising. Chinese authority SAPPRFT has a history of pulling seemingly random shows with no explanation. Back in 2014, it ordered local video sites to halt streaming of such series as The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife and NCIS, as well as legal drama The Practice. And last week, three platforms were ordered to stop live-streaming video, including Weibo.
Finding a way into the Middle Kingdom via a licensing partner has been seen as a major step forward in Netflix’s effort to enter the biggest market where it doesn’t have a foothold. It may just have to work that much harder to get past the PROC powers-that-be when it comes to content.
IQiyi — spun off by search power Baidu — said last year that it had more than 20M subscribers. It also has deals in place with Warner Bros, Lionsgate, Fox, NBCU and the BFI. Deadline has reached out to both partners for comment.
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