Tencent’s short-video product WeChat Channels reported impressive growth at its annual flagship event on Tuesday. The unit saw a 200% yearly growth in the total number of video views, and an 800% growth in total gross merchandise value (GMV) from livestream shopping content. 

Why it matters: WeChat Channels’ strong growth in creator numbers and view counts offers a wider basis for monetization plans. Tencent will likely see the short-video unit play a bigger role in its advertising revenue, with CEO Pony Ma recently declaring it “the hope of the whole company.”

Details: The total time users spent on WeChat Channels exceeded 80% of the time they spent on WeChat Moments (a feature similar to Facebook timeline) in 2022. The messaging app hasn’t revealed the amount of time users spend on the Moments feature since 2019, when WeChat founder Allen Zhang said the figure had been roughly the same over the years at an average of 30 minutes per day.

  • WeChat saw the total view counts of its video unit increase by 200% from last year, and the number of creators with over 10,000 followers was up 308%.
  • WeChat also posted significant growth in its live-commerce business, saying GMV grew more than eight times from last year, and the average unit price exceeded RMB 200 ($29.5), similar to last year’s.
  • For livestreaming, executives said the number of users and time spent watching jumped 300% and 156%, respectively. The video unit has already livestreamed multiple concerts by popular singers, speeches by public figures, and major sports events to the public. Last April, the Chinese rock star Cui Jian’s livestreamed concert attracted more than 46 million viewers, setting a viewing record for live online concerts at the time. 

Context: Tencent urgently needs to find a new revenue growth point as it faces slow growth in video games and advertising operations. The company’s overall revenue has declined in the last two quarters. The company’s CEO Pony Ma sees WeChat Channels as a major source of hope for the future of Tencent, with the unit already initiating various attempts to monetize.

  • Similar to rivals Douyin and Kuaishou, WeChat’s short-video unit have attempted to accelerate the commercialization process in multiple ways: livestream e-commerce, in-feed ads, encouraging users to tip livestreamers, and charging merchants a 1% to 5% commission fee, which started on Jan. 1.
  • Launched in 2020, WeChat Channels positioned itself as a short-video platform for personal video content, largely thanks to its integration with Tencent’s WeChat super app.

Cheyenne Dong is a tech reporter now based in Shanghai. She covers e-commerce and retail, AI, and blockchain. Connect with her via e-mail: cheyenne.dong[a]technode.com.