Baidu was once one of the big three entertainment tech firms in China and remains the majority owner of streamer iQIYI. But these days it positions itself as “an AI company with a strong internet foundation,” and a group that straddles cloud computing, electric vehicles, search and data.
Its revenues in the first quarter of the new financial year grew by 25% to RMB28.1 billion ($4.29 billion) with net profits increasing 39% to RMB4.30 billion ($656 million) on a non-GAAP basis.
It still has a foot in the entertainment space, with activities including games and newsroom technology. Baidu partnered with the online arm of China’s largest TV network CCTV to automate video clip creation and tagging from live broadcasting. It also activated multiple AI reporters to simultaneously interview congressional meeting participants and share the interviews on the internet.
Baidu has also yet to complete its planned acquisition of YY Live, a live-streaming firm.
DouYu, a NASDAQ-listed game-centric live streaming platform and a pioneer in eSports, slipped from profit to loss in its first quarter. Total net revenues were RMB2.15 billion ($329 million), compared with RMB2.29 billion in the same period of 2020. It recorded a net loss of RMB102 million ($15.5 million), compared with net income of RMB255 million in the same period of 2020. Monthly average users nevertheless grew by 21% to 192 million (from 158 million). Quarterly average paying user count was 7.0 million, compared with 7.6 million.
Huya, with which DouYu may be merged if regulators permit, had a slightly more buoyant time. Revenues increased 8% to RMB2.60 billion ($397 million) and net income edged ahead by the same amount to RMB186 million ($28.3 million).
Average mobile MAUs of Huya Live was 75.5 million, compared with 74.7 million in the first quarter of 2020. The total number of paying users of Huya Live fell to 5.9 million, compared with 6.1 million in the first quarter of 2020. The company noted that content and revenue sharing fees increased by 14% year on year, but bandwidth costs fell by 24%.
None of the companies has much to say on the swirl of regulation that is currently engulfing China’s tech and entertainment sector. Companies in the so-called ‘platform economy’ have been fined for anti-trust breaches that range from exclusive contracts to anti-competitive corporate acquisitions. They have also been warned over data collection, consumer privacy breaches and payment systems. Alibaba was fined $2.8 billion in April for abuse of its position in e-commerce, and it is widely expected that tech sector leader Tencent will also be reprimanded. Tencent reports its first quarter results on Thursday.