At their 2016 annual partner conference last week, Chinese social and gaming giant Tencent unveiled Entertainment Quotient Plan (EQ Plan), an initiative that makes ways for third-party online content creators on their QQ social platform.

Tencent pledged some RMB1 billion (US$150mn) worth of social marketing and other recourses, hoping to help about one thousand third-party online content creators grow big on the QQ platform over the next three years.

The company expects the EQ Plan is able to fuel a new raft of partnerships in online entertainment content like how their open platform for apps became a dynamic ecosystem. Since opening up their social platforms to third-party app developers five years ago, the company has registered more than 6 million developers and paid out a total of RMB16 billion (about US$240mn) in revenue to developers.

To end-user facing services, Tencent’s social platforms can’t be more attractive. QQ, the social network available on desktop and mobile, had had 899 million monthly active users as of the second quarter this year. And it’s registering increasingly more young users. 60% of QQ’s monthly active users were born after 1990, or post-90s, and 80% of QQ premium subscribers were post-90s, according to the company.

Online entertainment and cultural content business is one of the three core businesses for Tencent, together with social networking and internet finance, CEO Pony Ma said so in March this year.

Apart from online gaming which has been the major revenue generator for the company, Tencent has established subsidiaries that cover almost all other popular online content categories, including literary works, comic and cartoon, film and TV drama, music and esports. The company is leading in categories like online publishing and digital music distribution.

China Reading Limited (or Yuewen Group), jointly established with Shanda’s online publishing company in early 2015, is one of the largest online original works publishing companies in China that had amassed some 4 million authors and about 10 million works as of March this year. QQ Reading app, developed by Tencent and now part of China Reading, is also one of the major e-reading services in China.

The recent merger with China Music Corporation, which owns two major music streaming services (Kugou and Kuwo), has made Tencent’s QQ Music the biggest digital music provider in China in terms of the music library and user base.

Tencent Video is one of the leading online video streaming sites that offers a wide range of licensed and original content. In 2015 Tencent established two film and TV drama companies, Tencent Pictures and Penguin Pictures, owning their own film studios. Not only adapting Tencent’s own game and literary work IPs, the two companies also produce or publish movies or TV dramas by third-party companies or directors.

For the above-mentioned content platforms Tencent has been licensing from established companies and produces original professional content such as music concerts, game shows and esports tournaments.

But the latest trends such as short video sharing and live streaming have been fueled by individual content creators and independent content production startups. And the popularity of newly emerged celebrity vloggers and some proven business models are inspiring more individuals or startups to join in.

To tap into these new trends, Tencent launched earlier this year live streaming service NOW, Penguin Esports (not official translation), a live gameplay streaming service, and Riji, a social service for short video sharing. The EQ Plan is expected to motivate individual creators and startups to be more active on Tencent’s platforms.

Image credit: Tencent

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at