Tencent Music Entertainment (NYSE: TME), social media titan Tencent’s entertainment arm, has introduced an Audible-style audiobook and podcast app on Thursday via a livestreaming event. The move allows the company to expand into the Chinese audio streaming market on the back of its huge pool of listeners and its partnership with online literature company China Literature.
The new app, dubbed Kuwo Changting, hosts a wide variety of long-form audio content, including audiobooks, radio, podcasts, talk shows, and lessons. VIP accounts, which cost a monthly subscription fee of RMB 6 (USD 0.85), grant access to all of the platform’s content minus some high-quality books and lessons that cost extra.
Kuwo Changting’s release was hinted at previously, when during the fourth-quarter 2019 earnings call, Cussion Pang, TME’s CEO, explained that long-form audio is an area the company will expand into more proactively in 2020.
TME operates the four most popular music apps in China—QQ Music, Kugou Music, Kuwo Music, and Karaoke app WeSing—and has more than 800 million monthly active users (MAUs) on these applications, according to its fourth-quarter earnings release.
In March, the company signed a five-year strategic partnership with China Literature, which is also backed by Tencent, in a bid to enrich its content ecosystem and capture the huge potential within China’s massive but underpenetrated long-form audio market.
Per data from local research institute Qianzhan, the number of online audio listeners in China was around 492 million in 2019 and it is estimated to reach 618 million by the end of 2020. Lizhi (NASDAQ: LIZI), an audio content sharing platform with over 46.6 million mobile monthly active users (MAUs) debuted on Nasdaq in January this year. Ximalaya, the current leader in the audio market, reported 73.2 million MAUs as of June 2019.