Chinese short-video market in brutal shakeout as Tencent, Bilibili close smaller apps amid tougher conditions

  • The decision came just a day after Bilibili, the gaming and video-streaming platform, decided to close its short video app Light Video
  • Vue Vlog, which was fully acquired by Tencent two years ago, said it will cease operations on September 30

Vue Vlog, a short video app owned by Tencent Holdings, said it will cease operations in September, bowing out of a competitive market in China dominated by bigger players such as Tencent’s in-house short video service, ByteDance’s Douyin and Kuaishou Technology.

The decision came just a day after Bilibili, the gaming and video-streaming platform, decided to close its short video app Light Video, citing the need for a business restructuring. The closures came at a time when China’s Big Tech firms are consolidating amid a slowing and competitive market.

Vue Vlog, which was fully acquired by Tencent two years ago, said it will cease operations on September 30 due to “an adjustment of the project team’s strategic plan”, according to a notice issued on Thursday on its official website. Registration of new users was stopped on Friday and all user data will be deleted by the end of September, the company said.

Started in 2016 with an initial focus on video shoots and editing technologies, the app later morphed into a live video-blogging online community in China. It was fully acquired in cash by Tencent in 2020 for nearly US$50 million, according to Chinese media outlet 36Kr.

Tencent declined to comment further on Friday.

WeChat, the ubiquitous super app operated by Tencent, is doubling down on its short video feature Channels to take advantage of its enormous user base. Daily active users for the Channels function alone exceeded 500 million in 2021, surging 79 per cent year on year, according to a report by research institute Shideng.

Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok which now has over 600 million daily active users, is taking the fight in the opposite direction by extending into gaming, social media and e-commerce. While Kuaishou, known for its aggressive cash-burn model to gain market share, saw its average daily active users rise 17 per cent to 346 million in 2021, up from 295 million a year ago.

Vue Vlog’s decision followed Bilibili’s move on Thursday to shut down its video app Light Video, or “Qing Shipin” in Chinese, amid a business adjustment. Launched in 2018 as a stand-alone app by Bilibili to differentiate it from the main platform, Light Video mainly focused on short-form videos related to anime, comics and games content.

“It has been difficult to let go of Light Video,” the company said in a statement. “We will bring a better vertical screen browsing experience to the Bilibili app [in future].”

Author: Ann Cao, SCMP

You might also like