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Video | ByteDance vs Bilibili: Is there a Chinese alternative to YouTube?

Written by James Chan Published on 

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Do Bilibili, or Xigua Video have what it takes to become China’s next major media streaming platform?

Is there a Chinese counterpart to YouTube?

This has been a long-standing question for China’s Internet users. Around ten years ago, competitors included Youku and Tudou, two pioneering video websites. The two merged to form Youku Tudou in 2012, shifting to a business model based on the acquisition of licensed TV series and movies.

However, the primary contenders now include Bilibili, a video streaming platform known for its Gen Z appeal, and Xigua Video, a platform created by unicorn TikTok’s owner ByteDance.

Founded in 2009, Bilibili has grown into one of the most active online video communities in China in just about a decade. By Q1 of 2020, it had 172 million monthly active users (MAUs), up 70% year-on-year. Most of Bilibili’s users are young, with an average age of 21 years old.

Xigua Video, on the other hand, has a wider audience range. The platform, which was launched in 2016, has 131 million MAUs, with over one-third of its users being over 41 years old. Unlike iQiyi, Youku Tudou, and Tencent Video, which adopted Netflix’s approach of licensing content, Bilibili and Xigua Video have set their sights set on professional user-generated content (PUGC).

By Q1 of 2020, Bilibili hosted more than 1.8 million active content creators, who made videos across 20 categories. To compete with Bilibili, Xigua Video has rolled out incentive programs like revenue sharing opportunities with its content contributors. It has even lured creators from Bilibili with promises of greater exposure and higher earnings.

These actions reflect ByteDance’s ambition to step into China’s long-form video market after the success of its popular short-video app Douyin. In June of 2020, in a move to improve the experience for its creators, Xigua announced that its 4K feature would be free for all users and contributors.

The race to become China’s YouTube has played out many times in China’s internet scene, first with Youku and Tudou, and now with Bilibili and Xigua Video. As the competition heats up, who will come out on top? To learn more, please check out our explainer videos where we take a deep look at these two platforms.

To check out other videos by KrASIA, please visit our YouTube channel.

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