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06 March 2022
Bilibili feels the regulatory heat
Advertising regulationOnline video audiencesGreater China
Monthly average users and revenue grew at Bilibili during 2021, but the streaming website’s losses are also growing, in part because of tighter regulations coming out of Beijing.
Monthly Active users (MAUs) reached 271.7 million at the end of 2021, up 35% on a year earlier.
Revenue in Q4 2021 was up 51%; advertising revenue surged 120%.
But losses in Q4 hit 2.1 billion yuan.
Bilibili is facing stiff competition from Douyin for the attention of China’s Gen Z consumers. But regulatory pressures are also a factor: the South China Morning Post notes several aspect to this:
Beijing’s tighter scrutiny of imported anime has lessened Bilibili’s appeal as an online home for subculture groups.
A seven-month freeze on new game licences slowed the platform’s gaming revenue growth.
Changing rules mean more checking of the content of uploaded videos; the company is recruiting another 1,000 content reviewers.
Bilibili is far from being the only platform affected by evolving rules surrounding content, as Beijing seeks greater control over what can be seen and read online. This week, the Cyberspace Administration of China issued a new draft rule which aims to restrict push notifications on certain topics and to remove unlicensed news sources from being included in push notifications. Additionally, “human resources” will need to be involved in screening, editing and pushing content – so yet more costs for platforms.
Why it matters
The efficiency of advertising on these platforms may need to be reconsidered if rising costs are passed on to brands; ad effectiveness could also become an issue if content restrictions end up reshaping who uses the platforms and how they use them.