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A Guide to China’s Top 5 Video & Livestreaming Platforms

Last updated on June 5, 2024

A Guide to China’s Top 5 Video & Livestreaming Platforms

Livestreaming has become a daily routine for Chinese internet users, and it’s now a billion-dollar industry experiencing continuous growth. This expansion is evident through the increasing variety of content and a growing viewer base.

More and more companies, ranging from video games to luxury one-on-one consultations, are embracing livestreaming for e-commerce opportunities. Beyond China, even Amazon and Instagram have launched their own livestreaming and selling platforms.

This digital trend isn’t slowing down, and social commerce is becoming the norm in China. In fact, it’s estimated that the gross merchandise value (GMV) of the livestreaming e-commerce industry will surpass US$732.8 billion in 2023.

With algorithm-driven short-video apps dominating the online advertising landscape in China, here’s what global brands need to know about the top 5 video and livestreaming platforms in China.

Douyin (抖音)

Douyin, often referred to as TikTok’s Chinese counterpart, has a livestreaming service that revolutionises the way products are introduced to potential buyers. It utilises the app’s interest-based e-commerce model to create a seamless journey from sparking initial interest to completing a purchase. Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci have found great success using this social commerce platform.

Douyin Social Commerce Journey

One of the reasons for Douyin’s popularity among younger consumers in China is its accessibility. The platform makes it easy for well-known Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) to promote products, and this often results in direct sales. For instance, a recent livestreaming event featuring NBA star James Harden led to 10,000 bottles of wine being sold in just 10 seconds.

Moreover, Douyin offers attractive features like the Flagship Store and Global Choice, further solidifying its position as both a personal and commercial platform. This unique combination of features has contributed to Douyin’s success as a powerful tool for businesses looking to engage with their audience and drive sales.

Taobao Live (淘宝直播)

Taobao Live, Alibaba’s short-video platform, as rapidly grown to become China’s biggest B2C platform since its launch in 2016. It stands out as the dominant livestreaming platform in China, accounting for a remarkable 80% of all e-commerce livestreaming transactions in the country. 

One key factor contributing to Taobao Live’s success is its wide-ranging selection of affordable products. Coupled with its remarkably fast supply chain response, the platform simplifies the process for livestreamers to swiftly showcase, review, and sell a multitude of products to their dedicated audiences.

Kuaishou (快手)

Luxury brands have traditionally focused their marketing efforts on platforms like Douyin. However, Kuaishou, backed by Tencent, has been making a significant impact with its 673 million monthly active users (MAUs) and nearly US$4 billion in revenue during the second quarter of 2023.

A Guide to China’s Top 5 Video & Livestreaming Platforms - Kuaishou

What makes Kuaishou stand out from Douyin is its unique user base and product offerings. Kuaishou primarily serves users in lower-tier cities and small towns. This presents an exciting opportunity for brands looking to reach this demographic, especially considering that less prominent regions like Hubei, Fujian, and Yunnan have seen a substantial 10% increase in consumer goods sales.

Chinese e-commerce experts predict that the most significant consumer growth will continue to happen in these smaller cities in China.

Tencent Video (騰訊視頻)

Tencent Video, owned by the Chinese tech giant responsible for WeChat, stands as one of China’s largest online video platforms. Since its launch in 2020, it has quickly garnered a staggering 800 million users in just 3 years. Notably, it ranks as the world’s fourth-largest video platform, trailing only behind Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+.

A Guide to China’s Top 5 Video & Livestreaming Platforms - Tencent Video
Real-time comments from viewers fly across the screen.

This platform offers a diverse range of content, including movies, TV series, documentaries, animations, short videos, and sports events. What sets Tencent Video apart is its unique feature that enables users to interact, share recommendations, and engage in discussions with one another.

Youku (优酷)

In 2012, two former competitors, Youku and Tudou, joined forces to create the popular online video platform known as Youku Tudou.

Youku Tudou now dominates the Chinese online video market, boasting a remarkable 60% market share. It stands as one of China’s premier platforms for online video streaming.

A Guide to China’s Top 5 Video & Livestreaming Platforms - Youku

Comparisons are often drawn between Youku Tudou and YouTube, given their similarities. However, it’s essential to recognize that they operate differently. While YouTube relies heavily on user-generated content, Youku Tudou functions more like Hulu or Netflix. It invests in creating its own content and also offers a wide range of licensed TV shows, movies, and documentaries.

FAQs: Navigating China's Livestreaming Landscape for Global Brands

iS Clinical Booth CIBE 2023 livestreaming

How can international brands navigate China's regulatory landscape?

International brands must comply with China’s stringent content regulations and censorship laws. Navigating these challenges involves obtaining necessary licenses and partnering with local entities to ensure compliance. Brands should also stay informed about the ever-evolving regulatory environment to adapt quickly to any changes.

WPIC offers expertise in aligning brand content with regulatory requirements, ensuring that marketing strategies are both effective and compliant with Chinese standards.

By leveraging WPIC’s data and analytics tools, global brands can deeply understand user engagement and preferences on China’s dynamic livestreaming platforms. These insights enable the creation of highly tailored content that resonates with trends, demographics, and viewer behaviors.

This strategic approach not only enhances marketing efficacy but also significantly boosts relevancy among the diverse and rapidly evolving Chinese audience, ensuring that brands can effectively connect and engage with their target markets.

Brands must consider platform fees, content creation costs, and partnerships with local influencers. Additional expenses might include commissions and mandatory local partnerships for compliance, impacting overall budgeting.

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