First and formerly foremost ACG (anime, comic, games) video site, AcFun, has gone offline again following rumors that it was struggling to pay the bills. Attempts to reach the website return errors citing unresponsive servers and the app is not loading. Rumors yesterday suggested the company’s servers had been or would be switched off.

AcFun Weibo announcement
AcFun’s official Sina Weibo announcements just before its service went offline. (Image credit: TechNode)

According to local media (in Chinese), the platform’s channels became unresponsive around 10.30am this morning. The company itself said at 9.50am this morning via Weibo: “[crying emoji] We want to live for 500 years”. This followed its 00.12am announcement: “[cat face emoji]”. Previous to that, its Weibo feed had been its run-of-the-mill content postings.

Popularly known as A Station (A), AcFun was previously the largest ACG content video platform in China until Bilibili surpassed it.

AcFun browser error
Servers not responding for (Image credit: TechNode)

The company has seen a high turnover of management and previous financial and regulatory difficulties. In November we reported on the platform shutting down after which AcFun staff told us it may have been due to a cyber attack.

2017 was a tough year for AcFun as it ran into trouble with the regulators multiple times for not having the correct licenses for supplying certain types of video content. This time, however, finances are thought to be the company’s problem as losses have continued to mount in recent years (in Chinese), thought to be RMB 146 million for the first 9 months of 2016.

AcFun app errors
AcFun app unable to load content today “Loading failed”. (Image credit: Sina Tech News)

Whereas Bilibili diversified in terms of content and business scope and has gone on to thrive, AcFun has dithered, losing fans in the meantime. According to 36kr (in Chinese), user numbers dropped from 120 million daily active users in January 2017 to just 1.6 million by November 2017. With figures like these, even if the site bounces back one more time, its days could still be numbered.

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...

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