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Popular Chinese Apps – Bilibili

Bilibili (哔哩哔哩) is China’s largest pop culture and entertainment community for young people. Founded in 2009, it used to be a platform for sharing social content like videos of virtual idol Hatsune Miku and animated series, but now it’s an online pop culture community that spans anime, cartoons, games, music, painting, fashion, life, technology, to name a few genres. 

Bilibili is the Chinese counterpart of YouTube. However, Bilibili’s distinguishing characteristics and distinct community culture set it apart from its western equivalents. Haven’t used it? We’ll introduce you to some of the things that set it apart. 

One of the things most recognizable on the Chinese internet today is danmu (弹幕) or “bullet chat.” Danmu is real-time comments that show on the video and slide from right to left. Bilibili and AcFu, another video hosting site, were the first to use it in China. Nowadays, popular Netflix-like video sites such as iQiyi (爱奇艺) and Tencent Video (腾讯视频) use it as a standard practice, and even video hosting sites popular outside of China like Rakuten Viki use it. Rather than scrolling through comments separate from the video, as with video sites like YouTube, danmu allows viewers to see and share reactions with the action, as it happens. Danmu is a favorite among Millennials and Gen-Zers. Because the one-child policy generations grew up without siblings, young Chinese people enjoy watching films with danmu, which strengthens their sense of belonging. 

This sense of belonging contributes to the platform’s growth: Bilibili is used by one out of every two young people in China, which is statistically staggering. According to data Bilibili released, young individuals under the age of 35 make up 86 percent of the 294 million monthly active users on the network. Users spend more than 80 minutes every day on the site, producing 4.7 billion interactions per month, which helps to boost engagement rates. 

After years of steady growth as it cornered the once-niche “ACG” (anime, comic and games) subculture, the nearly 13-year-old Nasdaq-listed video-sharing platform Bilibili (Nasdaq: BILI) has gone more mainstream in China over the past few years. It offers original programming with shows like Rap for Youth and Voice Monster, hosts livestreams and games, and exclusively broadcasts some e-sports competitions.  Still, it pays tribute to its roots every year by celebrating the birthday of the founder’s favorite anime character, which gave the site its name. 

Bilibili content creators are known as Upzhu (up主) , much like you would use the word ‘YouTuber’ for someone on YouTube or TikToker for TikTok. TBC is also an Upzhu!  We have a variety of channels, including tips and tricks for learning English, our ChinaContact program, Study Abroad highlights and Interviews with our staff, faculty, students and alumni. Click here to check out our channel and see some of our videos!  

 Written by Suemmer Luo, TBC Media and Communications Intern