Chinese streaming platforms: a diversified market & opportunities for brands


It’s no secret that China is a powerhouse when it comes to online video platforms, reaching more than 660 million users in 2022. From ubiquitous online Chinese streaming platforms to the growth of short-form video streaming sites and apps, there are plenty of opportunities for brands to reach the Chinese audience with video content. In this post, we’ll take a look at China’s video streaming market and some of the opportunities it presents for brands.

Video streaming market share in China: No Netflix in China

China offers a diversified ecosystem for online video content, with no single service yet coming close to attaining a market share comparable to Netflix’s 87% in the U.S. But what is important to understand is that Netflix and other Western video platforms don’t operate in China. Instead, the bulk of the domestic market is split between the three largest online video platforms; iQiyi, Youku, and Tencent Video, which are respectively controlled by the country’s “big three” internet companies: Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent.

top chinese streaming platform 2022

As growth in paid membership and monthly subscription service has slowed, however, self-made dramas and variety shows have become more popular among Chinese consumers, and competition has intensified between Chinese streaming platforms. Over the past two years, with the rise of the state-backed Mango TV, Bilibili has gradually expanded from animated content to fully licensed media with a product line of film and TV services.

The China market for online videos has seen rapid growth during the pandemic in first and lower-tier cities as well as in all age groups of daily active users that were bored at home. This growth will likely continue into the future, as in 2022 the market is still growing at around 5% month-on-month. Chinese streaming platforms and live-streaming platforms, as well as short-video platforms and apps, are very popular in China, with many new players still joining the market with success.

Short Videos Apps Dominate the Chinese Streaming Platforms Sector

Meanwhile, short videos, led by the largest short-video platform Douyin and Kuaishou, following its steps, have taken over the industry, impacting the top Chinese streaming platforms.

One of the key reasons for the video streaming market growth in China is the rising demand for continuous streaming of data at the user’s convenience and time, without downloading. Owing to the increased access to multimedia devices and the internet, consumers are increasingly viewing short-form videos on demand, leading to a sharp increase in online video traffic. Domestic video platforms are trying to cater to these needs, offering many options to entertain consumers.

Douyin short video app

For companies and international marketers interested in tapping the soaring demand for video streaming platforms in China, content tailored to local audiences now provides opportunities for brand integrations that speak directly to consumers.

Who are the consumers of Chinese streaming platforms and short-video apps in China

When it comes to user demographics, according to China Trading Desk, the main users are men (64%) from youth working groups aged 31-35 (31%) and 24-30 (29%). In 2021, 930 million Chinese people watched short videos, with 660 million people using online video platforms. One of the key sectors is live-streaming platforms, as 464 million people watch live-streaming content.

The boom of Chinese streaming platforms and views during the 1st covid lockdown

During COVID-19, Chinese citizens found themselves housebound for weeks. Spending the majority of their time indoors, audiences, cut off from cinemas and other social activities, turned in droves to streaming video to pass the time.

With movie theaters shuttered, streaming platforms debuted 26 films online during the Lunar New Year holiday week, with average daily views of these movies twice that of the average in 2019.

Online streaming services and live-streaming platforms were experiencing a boom, which, although slowed down already, still presents a huge opportunity for Chinese e-commerce, heavily dominated by domestic brands.

Why are Chinese online video platforms important for brands in China?

Now inevitable in editorial plans and among digital marketing trends, the videos and live streaming features of many domestic platforms have shown in recent years to be able to guarantee a strong engagement.

With increased exposure, you can generate more leads for your business or get more followers for your personal brand. Within social media, it’s also easier to get people to find and share live videos, as it’s one of the most shareable content types. Since it requires immediate action, they’ll need to share your content right away so their friends can also see it. It’s a very effective way of generating user comments and growing your brand’s user base.

Another reason why video streaming is great to grow your audience is its cost-effectiveness. In the marketing world, there are many effective ways to reach people, but most require large investments, some can go up to multi-million dollar investments. In comparison, video streaming can be created on a shoestring budget and still bring great results.

Video streaming is an effective tool in your digital marketing arsenal that can help you reach your audience, expand your brand, and ultimately drive more sales. You can start making your own content easily without big investments and see the results faster than when it comes to written forms.

Chinese streaming Platforms: Who are the Major Players?

The Chinese media landscape and streaming video ecosystem are in a constant state of flux, with new players both large and small constantly entering the market. However, in recent years five key platforms have engaged in a fierce battle for market share.

chinese streaming platforms

Top Chinese Streaming Services: Iqiyi

Founded in 2010 by Chinese tech giant Baidu, iQiyi is most often referred to as the “Netflix of China.” This is not an entirely accurate comparison, since iQiyi is controlled by a larger tech firm, offers a free, ad-supported viewing option, and is worth far less than Netflix. But what is interesting is that iQiyi actually partnered with Netflix to stream exclusive Netflix content before.

The platform leads the Chinese market for online dramas and original films, having services similar to an internet television company. While Netflix only focuses on TV series and movies, IQIYI provides over 30 different types of content that include not just film and TV series, but also cartoons, sports, news, gaming, etc. in an ecosystem of its own, that is busy creating new channels of content creation.

Currently, it has 538 million monthly active users and 107 million subscribers. IQiyi is an important video platform gaining new users daily.


“Chinese Youtube” Youku, launched in 2006 as a hub for user-generated content. At its peak, Youku was the top online video platform in China, a position it boosted through a merger with rival Tudou in 2012. Alibaba acquired the company in 2015 and took it private.

Tencent video (QQ)

Launched in 2011, Tencent Video has shifted its strategy from spending on overseas content to developing original content that links to Tencent’s stakes in games, literature, music, and sports.

International content was once Tencent Video’s strong point: foreign language films and dramas, exclusive shows, or broadcasts for live NBA games in China. However, priorities have changed considerably in recent years and original content now prevails, especially in the areas of reality shows and IP-based programming from Tencent’s literature and from ACG’s activities (anime, comics, and games).

Currently, Tencent video has 540 million monthly active users and 106 million paid subscribers.

Tencent Video

Mango TV

Established in 2008 as the online presence of the provincial Hunan Broadcasting System, which is China’s second-largest TV network after the centrally operated CCTV.  Mango TV has recently come into its own and is now often discussed alongside its larger rivals in reports about China’s streaming video market.

Although originally set up as a platform to host HBS programs, Mango is building an independent reputation for creating a live stream of its dramas and reality shows.

Currently, it has 130 million monthly active users and 18 million paid subscribers.


Bilibili is the central hub for China’s ACG (anime, comics, and games) subculture, and became somewhat notorious for requiring users to pass a 100-question “geek test” in order to become “official members” with additional privileges on the platform. Bilibili is also a creative hotbed for China’s active meme culture.

The network has more recently gained acclaim for original documentary content that appeals to an emerging class of foodies and travelers. It is also investing in content creators with a particular emphasis on the current vogue for vlogs in the Chinese market.

Currently, it has 130.3 million monthly active users and 8.8 million paid subscribers. Brands seeking to reach their young, hip audiences have to be savvier in their efforts to gain and maintain their attention, either by launching their own channels with entertaining content or through collaborations with established creators.

How to market your brand through Chinese streaming video platforms?

The rise of content tailored to mainland China provides greater opportunities for brand integrations that speak directly to consumers in that vast market. In doing this, it is important for brand owners to understand the key rules of these platforms.

The following key features are the golden rules for brands considering working with China’s streaming video platforms.

Use Branding to promote your Brands on Chinese Streaming Services

Brand integrations, including product placements on scripted series, operate on an ad-buying model controlled by the platforms. This is very different from industry practices in the U.S., where brands more often work directly with producers to place products into shows, and often no money changes hands. Brands in China pay for varying levels of exposure, and their broadcast presence is counted in seconds.

Regardless of the content strategy used by a brand to reach the audience in China via domestic streaming video platforms, the most important thing is to ensure engagement in a way that is as fluid and discreet as possible.

Sharing the practical value of a product or brand allows audiences to “see for themselves” rather than hearing from a paid spokesperson or online influencer.

In China content is king

Chinese internet users love watching videos online and have shown little resistance to viewing advertisements as long as they are creative and/or strike some kind of emotional chord.

It is for this reason that many if not most major international brands have been quick to turn to stream video platforms in China as a pillar of their advertising and marketing strategy.

The main tip for making ads and managing dedicated channels for brands is simple: content is king. Taking a “content commerce” approach, in which brand messaging or advertising is camouflaged in interesting scripted or unscripted.

Content that incorporates trends that matter to your target customer is a best practice.  Numerous brands both inside and outside of China use this tactic to increase their impact in China.

Special announcements and product introduction

Hundreds of consumer goods, luxury, and fashion brands have turned to product placement on streaming television shows and movies to get in front of Chinese audiences over the past two decades. Although an effective way to increase awareness, product placement can be a minefield for brands whose integrations come across as awkward or irrelevant to the broader storyline.

Viewers tend to be highly critical of obvious brand intrusions into dramatic plots. Chinese dramas already have a reputation for “watering down” content with unnecessary ads.

Blogger/KOL hosted and user-generated content

To achieve greater engagement, the use of the so-called KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) is certainly recommended. Not only the participation of famous people increases visibility, but also a “take over” (transfer of the company profile to a public figure) of the company account helps to increase engagement with potential consumers. Receiving live answers to your questions from a celebrity is definitely an opportunity not to be missed.

Get to know more about Chinese streaming platforms

gma agency

Do you want to know more about How to market your brand through video streaming in China? Contact GMA a digital marketing agency, that specializes in the Chinese digital market. We are a company with more than 10 years of experience in the Chinese digital landscape. With over 1000 satisfied customers, we can assure you that we will meet your needs and help you market your brand in China.

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  • Very good article, KOL and Chinese model have to get a loyal community … that the key for brands.

  • Emerging countries like China should represent 60% of global GDP by 2030 and European SMEs intend to take advantage of this to strengthen their trade relations, particularly with China, Europe’s second partner. Some do not hesitate to settle in China .

    This is the choice made by the French company Loreal one of the three European leaders in cosmetics and even chemicals. 15 years ago, its leaders entered the Asian market. It was good for them: the turnover of their Chinese subsidiary increased by 20% each year to reach one and a half million euros in 2012. “The objective of our establishment was not to relocate, but quite simply to conquer new markets in China and Asia,”

    Before settling in China, the company spent several months in Shanghai to study the trends and market where it benefited from the advice of account managers and a particularly in-depth market study. “The strong point,” explains De Kong, “was the market study

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