Tencent brings digital entertainment platform WeTV to Thailand

Tencent, the Chinese internet and digital entertainment behemoth, expanded its existing video streaming platform into Thailand earlier this month, signaling its intention to expand its free-to-access Netflix-like service into other countries.

WeTV officially went live in Bangkok on June 14. It offers a broad range of international, local and original content ranging from popular soap operas and historical drama series, to anime and full-length films. Most of the content is still only in Chinese, but a proportion offers subtitles in Thai.

The company plans to soon offer local original content, and to dub more of the titles in its library for even greater reach.

Tencent already has a large user base in the Land of Smiles thanks to its popular WeChat app and online gaming presence. This has made the country a good first target for its push into SE Asia, according to Jeff Han, Senior Vice President of Tencent Penguin Pictures, which produces new content for the streaming business.

“This is the market we need to first enter to try to see whether an overseas launch could be a success for us, so we can continue the challenge,” Han said at a press conference in Bangkok.

“We have our priority markets... the Chinese-speaking markets, which will be more receptive to our offerings,” he commented.

The new service adds video to Tencent’s growing selection of digital entertainment platforms aimed at audiences outside China. Other services already live include regional music streaming platform Joox, and the PUBG MOBILE games franchise. Tencent is the world’s largest gaming company, but profits from the sector have recently taken a hit due to fresh regulations.

In Mainland China, Tencent Video is one of the most popular video streaming services among citizens, boasting over 89 million subscribers and more than 200 million active users each day.

The Thai-branded service WeTV is integrated with other Tencent platforms and is designed to be promoted as part of a broader ecosystem, offering advertisers and content makers a highly effective platform to reach their audiences.

“Thailand has a well-established online and entertainment infrastructure, as well as significant consumer buying power, which makes it a great choice as the first country to expand WeTV beyond China”, said Han.

“The readiness of the market in terms of demand for quality content and online consumer base is a key factor in Thailand. Here, internet users spend an average of 3 hrs 44 minutes on video streaming each day, and visitors already spend more than 80 minutes per day on WeTV, which gives us an excellent base on which to build.”

The company will not only localise Chinese content with Thai dubbing, it will also introduce ever-popular Korean content, which is a key component of local youth culture. Tencent has already licensed original programming overseas.

“When operating overseas, working closely with local partners is our key strategy. In Thailand, we are working hand-in-hand with both content partners such as One 31, GDH and Insight Entertainment to offer premium, fully localised entertainment options for Thai audiences,” added Han.

Whilst video on demand is still growing, some in the industry believe that live-streaming may be a potential disruptor because it is much cheaper to produce content and is based around social groups and community users.

By putting a video camera in the hands of amateur live-streamers, small studios and content creators, live-streaming creates a crowd-sourced base of millions of grassroots viewers that no traditional media company can match, say experts.

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