Tencent’s super app WeChat plans to share revenue with short video creators and launch a paid subscription service on its short video product WeChat Channels, the Shenzhen-based company announced on Tuesday night at a public event. Tencent also announced the launch of a new Quora-like question section in WeChat. 

Why it matters: Tencent is expanding its monetization efforts with regard to WeChat’s short video section, after seeing rapid growth in the channel but also facing direct competition from rivals Douyin and Kuaishou. This strategy aligns with CEO Pony Ma’s speech late last year in which he hailed short videos as “the hope of the company.”

Details: Zhang Xiaochao, leader of the WeChat Channel unit, spoke first at the event and shared that in the three years since its launch, the short video section of the super app has seen creators grow two times more active, while creators with more than 10,000 fans grew more than four times in 2022. Leaders from other WeChat units — WeChat Pay, WeChat mini-programs, office automation-focused WeCom, and WeChat search — also spoke at the event. 

  • In 2022, the value of goods sold through livestreams on WeChat surged by 800% and creators who earned income through videos increased nearly three times, Zhang said.  
  • Increasing earnings for content creators is a priority for WeChat Channel’s next phase of development. Zhang said WeChat will soon launch a paid subscription feature, which will allow creators to set up a paid content section where users can pay a monthly subscription fee. This will help creators quickly set up their own commercialization subscription system, Zhang added. 
  • Additionally, creators will have the option to access Tencent’s advertising system, which can display content-related ads in the comment section. This incentive is part of Tencent’s aim to attract more influencers.
  • WeChat is also planning to roll out a new question function called Wenyiwen (meaning “ask a question” in Chinese), similar to a Quora-style Q&A platform. The feature will aggregate high-quality answers to common questions. Tencent added that more than 800 million monthly active users utilize its search feature, which saw a 54% year-on-year growth in search volume in 2022.

Context: With just over 1.3 billion monthly active users, all-in-one messaging app WeChat primarily monetizes via livestreams, e-commerce, and advertising on its short video section Channels. 

  • Total time users spent on WeChat Channels exceeded the time they spent on WeChat Moments (a Facebook-like timeline function) in the quarter ending Dec. 31, Tencent’s latest filing showed.
  • Tencent conducted its first test of paid-to-watch livestreaming in January 2022, with users required to pay approximately RMB 10 ($1.45) to access a live feed of an NBA game. However, compared to rivals Kuaishou and Douyin, which have already furthered their attempts at paid content, Tencent is still lagging behind. 
  • Kuaishou, for instance, has a separate “paid content” section on its app and recorded 59.6 million paid subscribers in the third quarter of 2022. Meanwhile, ByteDance-owned Douyin has operated a paid business model for watching short dramas since November 2021.

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.