Tencent super app WeChat beefs up short video-sharing, live-streaming features as it takes on TikTok sister app Douyin

Celia Chen
·3-min read

Tencent Holdings’ super app WeChat has reinforced its short video-sharing and live-streaming functions, according to the latest update of the multipurpose social media platform, amid increased competition from Douyin, the Chinese version of ByteDance-owned TikTok.

WeChat, which had 1.2 billion monthly active users (MAUs) in the December quarter, doubled the video length for its Instagram-style WeChat Moment service to 30 seconds, from the previous 15 seconds, under its new version 8.0.3. This change would enable all content creators on the platform to increase exposure to their audience.

While the default length of short videos on Douyin is 15 seconds, the service grants its major content creators to post longer clips. Douyin has more than 550 million MAUs.

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Live-streaming videos on WeChat can now be “recommended” to users, compared to an automatic notice of “your friend is also watching”. This means Tencent will rely on algorithms to identify and push recommended clips to users, just like what Douyin and Kuaishou Technology have been doing.

The changes are a testament to Tencent’s determination to take on Douyin, which recently launched its own mobile payment service to compete against WeChat Pay, in China’s fast-growing short video-sharing market segment.

China had 818 million short video-sharing users at the end of June last year, according to a report by the China Netcasting Services Association. Douyin and Kuaishou, which had 475.7 million MAUs in the quarter ended December 31, were the dominant players in the market.

But Tencent is catching up quickly since it launched a beta test of short video function Channels in January last year. Channels had accumulated 200 million users in six months. WeChat also added a live-streaming function for its mini apps – apps that run within the platform – in February, and integrated short video with its live-streaming feature.

The future of China’s most popular app WeChat is short videos and live streaming, says creator Allen Zhang

Allen Zhang Xiaolong, the creator of WeChat, said in January that the future of WeChat will be about video and live-streaming services. The WeChat team is also developing features to link live-streaming e-commerce to third-party mini programs on the platform, according to Zhang.

Version 8.0.3 of WeChat also increased the number of emojis to 999, up from the previous 300. “The cap lift of emoji numbers will allow me not to lose a fight with my friends with WeChat stickers,” one user posted on microblogging platform Weibo on Monday. The new features currently work on Apple’s iOS devices, not on Android devices.

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