• Andrew Collins

Chinese Digital Media: The Biggest Year Yet

Updated: May 30, 2019

12 months ago, we asked how China’s digital landscape would continue to evolve, innovate and grow. Today, that question has been answered.


We’ve seen growth across the board on the current platforms, something that the Western counterparts cannot unanimously state. Micro-payments have become part of our everyday life in China, with record-breaking fees being spent across mobile devices. And live streaming has innovated beyond the likes of Facebook Live and Periscope to even include revenue opportunities.


WeChat, the platform that everyone is now talking about, has grown from 650 million to 806 million monthly active users, the fastest growing global social platform. Not only has the platform grown its active user base, but they have successfully integrated micro-payments. A reported 50% of WeChat users have synced their bank accounts, meaning that over 400 million have a registered WeChat pay account. Compare that to Apple Pay and Samsung Pay who have only 12 million and 5 million users respectively.


WeChat’s success has come through their innovative features. For the past two year, the platform has rolled out the ‘hong bao’ initiative, with 8 billion virtual red envelopes being sent amongst users in the space of 7 days. Payments through mobile devices have also exploded. Chinese netizens on Singles Day almost 12 months ago, spent a record $14+ billion in 24 hours, with 68% coming through mobile.


Many people have asked about whether Weibo is dead. Kobe Bryant’s retiremed hashtag, #KB20# reached 1 billion new reads. It is still growing and is the number one platform for breaking news and social issues. In the last 12 months, Weibo grew from 212 million to 282 million monthly active users. In the same period, Twitter decreased by 3 million to 313 million. In their first victory over Twitter, Weibo has now more users from mobile devices than Twitter, and we expect the platform to overtake Twitter in the next 12 months.


What’s new? Facebook Live and Periscope developed the model, but live streaming platforms have now overtaken the West. There are now 325 million live streaming users in China, and as recently as the Olympics, 500,000 fans joined in for Michael Phelps live stream after his final event. What China has done successfully though is their integration of social currency, turning these platforms into revenue streams. Xiao Zhi, a famous EGamer, earns a reported $6 million per year by live streaming his League of Legends game.


In 12 months, a lot changes. China has shown their ability to become digital innovators and lead the global landscape. All we can say is that we’re looking forward to the next 12 months.

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