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May 22, 2020

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Online firms count pandemic cost

Pandemic conditions and lockdown measures have had different levels of impact on major overseas-listed Chinese companies as they cope with shifts in user habits.

Livestreaming, gaming and online entertainment are gaining more users, while online advertising has not returned to normal levels given economic uncertainty, recent quarterly earnings results suggested.

Livestreaming and short-video firm JOYY Inc said that its global livestreaming services increased 33 percent to 177.6 million and more than 77 percent of its total 520.1 million mobile user base comes from overseas markets.

Total revenue climbed 49.6 percent to 7.15 billion yuan (US$1 billion) while profit shrank 34 percent to 428.9 million yuan after consolidation of overseas businesses.

“For now, the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operation has been relatively mild,” said JOYY’s Chief Financial Officer Jin Bing.

The user bases of its streaming sites YY and Huya added 22 percent and 38.6 percent, respectively, after JOYY further cemented its leadership position in China by launching innovative virtual entertainment events and upgrading its livestreaming content.

The total number of paying users of leisure streaming site YY decreased 3.6 percent to 4 million, but paying users of gaming livestreaming service Huya increased 13 percent to 6.1 million.

Shanghai-headquartered gaming and video streaming site Bilibili said revenue climbed 69 percent to 2.32 billion yuan although it has not yet turned profitable.

The number of monthly active content creators and their content submissions more than doubled compared to the same period last year as quarantine measures boosted virtual entertainment formats.

“We’re still quite confident that in the second and third quarters, we’ll see relatively decent rates of user growth after users return back to school or work,” said Bilibili Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Chen Rui.

Average mobile monthly active users reached 156.4 million, adding more than 70 percent.

Revenues from value-added services surged 172 percent to 793.6 million yuan, led by increases in the number of paying users and live broadcasting services.

Social networking site Weibo slightly missed earnings but beat estimates on revenue.

Revenue in the first quarter was down 19 percent from the year-ago quarter to US$323.4 million and earnings per share fell 46.43 percent to 30 US cents.

“We’ve seen a gradual recovery trend since March for most brands and merchants from the trough in February, although there are still uncertainties,” said Weibo CEO Wang Gaofei.

Since April, the company has also seen a sequential recovery of ad spend from key advertising customers with either flattish or modest growth on an annual basis.


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