Era of e-sports: China’s Douyu TV hits valuation of US$100 million as backer Tencent gambles on live streaming service

But video -and game- streaming service likely to face competition from Panda TV, backed by son of Wang Jianlin, one of China’s wealthiest men

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 March, 2016, 8:30am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 March, 2016, 8:30am

As the Chinese market for online games continues to boom, Douyu TV, an online entertainment company that broadcasts live e-sports events, has hit a reported valuation of US$100 million after a Series B funding round led by social giant Tencent Holdings.

This is the latest move by Tencent, the parent of mainland China’s most popular mobile chatting tool WeChat, to maintain its dominant position in China’s online games market as competition from domestic rivals grows.

Tencent said it also deepens the two sides’ pre-existing strategic cooperation agreement in the field of entertainment, culture and sports, news website 163.com reported.

Founded in 2013 and backed by venture-capital firm Sequoia Capital China, Douyu TV is a start-up similar to Twitch, that live video-game-streaming site that Amazon snapped up two years ago for US$970 million.

As market competition heats up, Wang Sicong, chairman of private investment firm Prometheus Capital and son of one of China’s wealthiest men, Wang Jianlin, has launched another Twitch-like service called Panda TV. It will also stream e-sports and has registered capital of 20 million yuan (US$3.07 million), reports indicate.

Moreover, China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba rolled out its own video-streaming service in September for users in China called Tmall Box Office, which offers a mixture of Chinese and foreign content, while Netflix rolled out its over-the-top (OTT) service Hong Kong and 130 new markets this January.

However, Douyu is going from strength to strength. It now has around 100 million registered users and 15 million daily active users across its platform, the report said. Up to four million users watch its live feeds at the same time, it added.

Tencent may be backing another winner in this case as China’s estimated 408 million online gamers spend a combined 114 billion yuan a year, according to local media reports. Around 56 per cent watch e-sports competitions.

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The global professional e-sports market generated US$194 million in revenue last year and is expected to grow to more than US$465 million by 2017, according to research firm Newzoo.

A live-streamed concert by South Korean girl group T-ara recently attracted some 800,000 viewers to Panda TV. The K-pop band signed with Wang’s talent agency several months ago,

In 2011, Wang purchased the pro-gaming team formerly known as Catastrophic Cruel Memory (CCM) but since renamed Invictus Gaming (iG) for US$6 million to further promote e-sports in China.

The team is sponsored by computer accessories maker Logitech and personal computer vendor Asus. It is competing in various computer game leagues, including for such hits as Defence of the Ancients 2, League of Legends, Crossfire and StarCraft II.