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ByteDance Stakes a Claim in the War for Young China’s Attention

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Jinri Toutiao, a news aggregator launched by Beijing tech company ByteDance Technology in 2012, today has over 600 million total users and 120 million daily active users. Valued at 22 billion USD, ByteDance is one of the fastest-growing tech giants around, famous for feeding its readers stories by using artificial intelligence and algorithms.

But ByteDance moved beyond just the news a while ago. The company invested one billion USD into short videos in 2016, and has since launched some of the most popular UGC (user-generated content) video apps in China, including Tik Tok (抖音Dou Yin), Hypstar (火山小视频), and Watermelon Video(西瓜视频). ByteDance also bought visual storytelling app Flipagram and livestreaming app Musical.ly in 2017, and reached an agreement with Buzzfeed a month ago to distribute the latter’s content on Toutiao, its Chinese media platform.

This month, after being acquired by ByteDance/Toutiao for a reported 300 million USD, Faceu (an AR camera app that overlays animal whiskers and other funny features over your selfie) bought naming rights for Spring Festival programs on four regional television networks across China. ByteDance has also gotten into comics recently, through its acquisition of bcy.net, a cosplay, drawing, and writing social network for hardcore comics fans.

Faceu

Eventually, ByteDance is aiming to make something “longer” — not just daily headlines, but long videos and short films, it seems. WeChat public account Duojiaoyutou found that ByteDance (via Toutiao) is recruiting TV variety show producers’ assistants, script editors, and project managers. Tencent Tech has also reported that ByteDance/Toutiao is in the market for IP rights to original content. The company has yet to respond to these speculations.

The Duojiaoyutou article also reveals that military news receives the most attention and comments on Toutiao, which is widely viewed as a platform for mostly older male users. ByteDance’s recent moves might help to attract more young, female consumers to Toutiao and ByteDance’s growing ecosystem of entertainment apps.

Cover image: TMTPost

Fan Shuhong
    Shuhong (aka Rita) is a language instructor, English/Chinese translator, writer, and proud bunny owner based in Beijing. She's previously worked in Washington D.C. and IUP at Tsinghua University. She loves Chinese language, Japanese arts, post-rock music and good English TV series. Instagram: rita_van

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