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ByteDance unveils AI-enabled app for audiobooks without voice actors

Analysts predicts China’s audio content market will reach RMB 100 million (USD 14 million) by 2026.

Photo: Stock.tutong.com

Beijing-based ByteDance, best known for its short-video app TikTok, has launched an app for people to listen to audiobooks, which is called Fanqie Changting on the Apple app store, the company confirmed with KrASIA on Monday. The app leverages AI to convert text into audiobooks that sound like they are read by real people, bypassing the need to hire actors to read books.

“Audiobooks are an important type of novel and Fanqie Novel will keep exploring actively in this area,” Fanqie Novels, an online novel platform, which is owned by ByteDance and which is in charge of operating the Fanqie Changting app, told KrASIA on Monday. The content of audiobooks on Fanqie Changting is from Fanqie Novels.

Fanqie Changting sells a monthly membership at RMB 18 (USD 2.4), a three-month membership at RMB 50, a six-month membership at RMB 99, allowing users to download audiobooks and listen ad-free, among other paid benefits.

ByteDance, a dominant player in the news sector with its Jinri Toutiao content aggregator and in the short-video sector with Douyin, has yet to find its foothold in the audio content market, where Ximalaya, Qingting, and Lizhi (NASDAQ: LIZI) currently lead.

China’s auto content market size is to reach RMB 100 million (USD 14 million) by 2026, according to 36Kr, citing unidentified analysts’ predictions.

KrASIA reported in August last year that China’s second-largest search engine, Sogou (NYSE:SOGO), was developing two video-based AI novel readers for an e-book company that were expected to look and sound like popular Chinese authors. Sogou did not respond to KrASIA on Monday about whether these two virtual readers have been rolled out yet.

36Kr is KrASIA’s parent company