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A smartphone shows live streaming on the Douyin platform. Photo: SCMP/Simon Song

Douyin nearly doubles daily active users over past year as Chinese spend even more time watching short videos

  • Rival Kuaishou set a target for the company to reach 300 million daily active users by February

Douyin, the short video app owned by the world’s most valuable start-up Bytedance, said its daily active users exceeded 400 million in January 2020, up from 250 million the same time a year ago.

The user numbers were included in Douyin’s annual data report released on its WeChat official account on Monday. A Bytedance spokeswoman declined to comment further on the matter.

Seven-year-old Bytedance, reportedly valued at US$78 billion last year, has achieved international success with TikTok, the international version of Douyin. The endless scroll of short videos on the platform, which uses an AI model to track user behaviour and tailors content on their personalised page, has become an obsession with internet users in small rural towns and major cities alike.

The top three professions with the most likes on Douyin are teachers, nurses and firefighters, according to the data report. While Beijing and Shanghai rank in the top five when it comes to highest number of average video views, Liaoning province, Jilin province, and Heilongjiang province – all located in China’s northeast region – make up the rest of the top five in terms of views.

The Douyin platform has also become a place to go to learn and obtain knowledge. The report said 130 million Douyin users have watched videos posted by a creator called Xiangbo Teacher, who shares chemistry knowledge, while 64 million have watched content posted by an account that shares knowledge related to ancient architecture.

How Bilibili, Kuaishou, Douyin are fostering Chinese students’ education

China’s highly competitive short video industry recorded a total of 857 million users as of June 2019, with Chinese users likely to spend more time watching short videos than longer content in future, according to a report by Qianzhan Industry Research Institute. Douyin and Kuaishou are among the first tier of short video apps in the industry, followed by Bytedance-owned Xigua video and Huoshan video, according to a separate report by the Qianzhan institute.

The Beijing-based Bytedance counts deep-pocketed investors such as Japan’s SoftBank among its backers. TikTok, which has attracted negative attention from Washington over data privacy and national security concerns, has reached 1.5 billion total downloads on the App Store and Google Play, according to Sensor Tower. It was the third most downloaded non-gaming app of last year after WhatsApp and Messenger

Kuaishou, the country’s second-largest short video platform backed by Tencent, had 200 million daily active users as of May 2019, according to the company’s website. It will invest 1 billion yuan (US$143 million) of cash into a red packet campaign for the upcoming Lunar New Year, in a partnership with China’s official Spring Festival Gala.

The promotion comes after Kuaishou’s founders, Su Hua and Cheng Yixiao, set a target for the company to reach 300 million daily active users by February.

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