Chinese short video apps added nearly 150 million new daily active users (DAU) during the extended Spring Festival holiday compared with a year ago as residents search for ways to stay entertained during the Covid-19 outbreak, according to a recent data analytics report. 

Why it matters: The Covid-19 outbreak is pushing China’s already tech-savvy population further online for entertainment, daily necessities, and even health care. Consumption habits formed during the crisis may be helping to reshape a new normal for Chinese consumers. 

  • The impact has varied across industries. Verticals with an offline business core such as online travel and mobility has cratered, while online entertainment and online sales of daily necessities saw a spike. 
  • Social media growth is still robust, but was outpaced by short video.

Details: DAU for Chinese short video apps combined reached 574 million during this year’s extended Spring Festival, which ran 10 days from Jan. 24 to Feb. 2. Short video apps had a combined DAU of 426 million during last year’s week-long holiday, and prior to the holiday on Jan. 2 to Jan. 8 this year, the DAU count was 492 million, according to a Quest Mobile report published on Feb 12.

  • Douyin led the pack, with DAU surging 39% year on year to 318 million during the holiday, while Kuaishou followed in second place with 227 million DAU, up 35% from the holiday period a year ago. Both of the apps recorded a peak in DAU peak on Jan. 24, the eve of the Spring Festival day, largely driven by red packet cash prizes for various holiday galas.
  • The percentage of total time users spent online jumped to 17.3% for short video apps during the 2020 holiday from 11.8% during the holiday last year, a 47% increase.
  • Users spent 139 minutes on social media apps during the 2020 holiday period compared with 121 minutes in the holiday period a year earlier, growing 14.9%. Users spent 105 minutes on short video apps during the 2020 holiday compared with 78 minutes during the 2019 holiday period, a 34.6% surge.
  • Fresh produce e-commerce platforms nearly doubled DAU to 10.1 million in during this Spring Festival holiday from 5.3 million during the holiday a year ago.
  • The gaming sector has seen a surge of engagement with average time spent on mobile games increasing to 159 minutes during this year’s holiday from 113 minutes during Spring Festival 2019.
  • Covid-19 concerns sparked user growth of online healthcare apps led by Ping’an Good Doctor and DXY.
  • Online travel platforms were hit the hardest, recording a 40% drop in traffic during the holiday.

Context: The shift in user attention to short videos is reflected in the migration of brand ad budgets, a major source of revenue for tech firms.

  • Kuaishou handed out RMB 1.1 billion (about $143 million) worth of cash giveaways to users during the Spring Festival Gala, an annual event held by the state-backed China Central Television.
Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.

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