Exclusive | Tencent-backed Huya to launch anime platform to target Gen Z, upping rivalry with Alibaba-backed Bilibili

Game-streaming firm Huya has turned profitable this year and aims to win over the hearts of Gen Z.

credit: DFIC

China’s Twitch-like service Huya is set to roll out a new platform centered on anime, comics, games, and novels (ACGN) content, in an effort to cash in on the country’s burgeoning animation and cartoon sector, 36Kr has learned.

That means the Tencent-backed Huya, famous for its esports live streaming app of the namesake, will have a second platform in the market soon.

It is not clear when the new platform will be launched, or it will be an app or a website, as Huya refused to comment when contacted by 36Kr.

Huya diversified the content of its app into ACGN as early as 2017. Such users already made up 10% of all Huya users a year later, the company told 36Kr in August 2018.

At the early stage, the new ACGN-centric platform, which targets young females, will feature user-generated content created by selected users. Huya will roll out the new platform without depending on the traffic from its own app, whose users are mostly males, the report said, citing sources familiar with the matter.

In China, the rising subculture of ACGN is known as “erciyuan” or “two-dimensional space,” since most comics and anime are two dimensional. The country had more than 370 million ACGN users in 2018, according to local gaming industry data provider CNG. Gen Z, who are teens or in their early 20s, are the major consumers.

Yet its rival, Alibaba-backed Bilibili, has had an early foothold in the sector. As China’s biggest anime streaming site, Bilibili reported a monthly active user of 110.4 million in the second quarter, a year-on-year rise of 30%.

Huya, which floated in New York in May last year,  reported a net income of USD 17.7 million for the second quarter of 2019, compared with a net loss of USD 308.9 million in the same period a year ago. Net revenue jumped 93.6% to USD 292.9 million in the three months ended June, according to the company’s earnings report.