Saturday, July 13, 2024

What is Douyin? China’s TikTok and ByteDance’s profit powerhouse

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US President Joe Biden last week signed a bill compelling ByteDance to divest ownership of TikTok within nine months. This came after a bill received support from the US Senate after both Democratic and Republican lawmakers expressed concerns over the potential exploitation of TikTok by China’s Communist Party for propaganda dissemination and espionage.

Even though the social media landscape often seems dominated by the likes of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. However, in China, the digital ecosystem dances to a different tune, with platforms like Douyin for the country’s massive user base. This is the Chinese counterpart of TikTok.

Douyin, launched in September 2016 by Beijing-based tech company ByteDance, mirrors many of the features that have made TikTok a global sensation. Users can create and share short-form videos set to music while showcasing their talents, creativity, and everyday moments. From lip-syncing performances to viral dance challenges, Douyin has become a hub for entertainment for millions of users across China.

Despite its similarities to TikTok, Douyin operates independently within China’s heavily regulated digital sphere. This is due to the stringent censorship and content restrictions imposed by the Chinese government. 

While Douyin offers a familiar user experience, it adheres to China’s regulatory framework, ensuring compliance with local laws and cultural norms. Moreover, Douyin’s influence extends beyond entertainment, with businesses and content creators leveraging the platform to reach and engage with audiences.

Livestream shopping on Douyin in 2022 surged, surpassing $200 billion in transaction value, as per reports. Douyin’s user base also soared to over 700 million active monthly users by May. It raked in $21 billion in advertising revenue in 2023, dwarfing even YouTube’s ad earnings.

While TikTok boasts more users globally, Douyin remains ByteDance’s primary revenue generator, contributing around 80 percent of the company’s $54 billion revenue in the first half of last year. 

Interestingly, while TikTok attracts a younger demographic, Douyin dominates among older users in China. A report revealed Douyin as the most popular app among Chinese individuals aged 50 and above. 

(With inputs from agencies)


Heena Sharma

Heena Sharma is a digital journalist who writes mostly on current geopolitical developments. @HeenaSharma0819

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