Chinese video platform Bilibili has launched localized services in Thailand and Malaysia, marking the company’s first landing in Southeast Asia as it joins the race for eyeballs against Chinese peers Tencent and iQiyi, as well as global streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney.
“The app is the official Bilibili standalone application in Southeast Asia. We aim to provide local users with a comprehensive video community with high-quality anime, comic, and games (ACG) content,” a Bilibili spokesperson told KrASIA.
The Thai version of Bilibili positions itself mainly as a site for watching anime. It was updated on December 17 and has racked up more than 1,000,000 installs so far, the app’s page in the Google Play store shows.
“Thank you for making this available internationally! There are translation glitches in anime episode titles but are very few, doesn’t really affect my viewing. Thanks again!” read one user’s comment.
A Facebook page titled “Bilibili Thailand” was created on November 17. “Bilibili is the leading anime community in Generation Z! Watch for free! The hottest anime series with real-time updates, correct language, and more!” reads the first post. Bilibili said all content offered for streaming in Thailand is licensed, and that an iOS version of its app is in the works. A newly created Twitter account has a blank feed as of this writing.
Bilibili recently went online in Malaysia as well, although a public version is not available yet, Chinese media outlet Zhixiang reported.
Bilibili is not the only Chinese video platform that seeks to plant roots in Southeast Asia, where no company has established a dominant position. Tencent’s international streaming service, WeTV, launched in Thailand—its first overseas streaming market—last year, Nikkei Asia reported. “We’re planning to further expand video streaming outside China,” said Li Kaichen, head of Tencent’s overseas streaming operations, to Nikkei Asia. “We intend to focus on Southeast Asia, where the potential demand is especially high.”
In June, Tencent acquired iflix, a Malaysia-based streaming service with 25 million active users across 13 countries, including Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Tencent said the move would “further extend our presence in the video streaming industry across Southeast Asia.”
Baidu-backed iQiyi’s international version launched in June 2019 and was eventually rolled out in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Laos. In November 2019, the company announced a partnership with Astro, a major Malaysian television service provider, to reach local viewers. This year, in July, iQiyi appointed three new country heads in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The streaming platform has a goal to have as many as half of its subscribers from overseas markets within five years, iQiyi CEO and founder Gong Yu told Reuters in late 2019.