What is Bilibili and Why You Should Pay Attention to It?

Bilibili, a leading video community in China known as "B-site", B-Zhan and 哔哩哔哩, is an online video platform that caters to a wide range of interests for diverse audiences. It is often referred to as the "YouTube of China".

Overview of bilibili

Boasting a strong presence in the Chinese market, Bilibili has captivated millions of active users with its vast collection of video content. 

What is Bilibili?

The platform sets itself apart with its unique and interactive features. One of Bilibili’s key features is “Danmu (弹幕)” or “bullet chat”: a form of video commentary used on online videos, which allows users to share their thoughts and engage with the video in real time, becoming more and more common used among other big video platforms.

Since its inception in 2009, Bilibili has evolved beyond its origins as a dedicated ACG (Anime, Comics, Game) content platform. It has transformed into a comprehensive online video community offering a wide spectrum of content encompassing fashion, lifestyle, technology, gastronomy, knowledge sharing, and more.

Bilibili’s slogan, “All the videos you love are on Bilibili,” underscores its commitment to encompass all aspects of users’ lives. Consequently, Bilibili has emerged as an indispensable platform for brands looking to establish deeper connections with the young Chinese audience (age < 30 years old).

Bilibili’s focus on user-generated content and content creators has fostered a strong sense of community among its tight-knit communities, through time Bilibili has become a key player in the online video market.

Bilibili generates revenue through various means, including mobile games, value-added services, advertising, and e-commerce. It offers a platform for brands to reach a broader audience and engage with users through video ads and creative promotions. Additionally, Bilibili has a premium membership that provides users with exclusive benefits and a more enhanced viewing experience.
Overall, Bilibili has become a thriving online community for anime, gaming, and creative content, with a strong focus on user engagement and a sense of community.

Its innovative features and diverse content offerings make it a leading platform in the Chinese online video market.

Bilibili’s Innovative Features

User Interaction: Bilibili’s unique bullet comment system allows viewers to post comments while watching videos and interact with other viewers in real-time, significantly enhancing user engagement and the community atmosphere.

User-Generated Content (UGC): Bilibili encourages users to create and share content. Many talented creators (known as UPs UP主 in Chinese) post original videos on various topics, attracting a large fanbase.

Diverse Culture: Bilibili offers a rich variety of content, including not only ACG (Anime, Comics, and Games) but also movies, TV series, documentaries, and open courses, Vlogs, catering to diverse interests.

Virtual Currency and Membership System: Bilibili has introduced a virtual currency called “coins” and a membership system. Viewers can support their favorite UPs by tipping coins or becoming premium members to enjoy additional privileges.

Bilibili Market Analysis

Bilibili Business Models

Bilibili’s business and profit models differ from those of more traditional video websites, as they primarily revolve around the “Generation Z” users, who are the foundation of its establishment and the basis for its future development. Therefore, to maintain the connection with “Generation Z,” Bilibili exercises some restraint in its commercialization, considering their preferences.

However, this does not mean Bilibili forsakes its commercial value; rather, it sometimes adopts more unconventional methods to generate revenue.

  • Gaming: It has always been a crucial revenue segment for Bilibili, consistently holding the top spot in terms of earnings. At one point, it contributed over 50% of Bilibili’s income. In 2023, Bilibili generated 4 billion yuan in revenue from mobile games through cooperation and overseas agency agreements. Additionally, Bilibili continues to invest in the gaming industry chain by developing its own games and investing in gaming companies.
  • Anime Series: After listing, Bilibili significantly increased its investment in purchasing anime series rights each quarter. The majority of popular anime series broadcasting rights in mainland China are secured by Bilibili, many of which are exclusive broadcasts, bringing substantial traffic to the platform.
  • UGC (User-Generated Content): Besides watching animations and movies, another particularly important aspect of Bilibili’s content is UGC. The continuous and effective output of high-quality original content is a key reason why Bilibili can attract users. Therefore, Bilibili has always vigorously ensured the production of high-quality content, providing strong support for the creators (UPs). In 2018, Bilibili launched the “Creator Incentive Plan” to encourage and support both new and existing UPs, energizing the relationship between creators and their audience.
  • Live Streaming: In the field of live-streamed esports, Bilibili is also expanding horizontally, continuously attracting talent and increasing investments. Bilibili not only outperforms live streaming platforms like Kuaishou, Douyu, and Huya but also spent 800 million yuan to secure the exclusive three-year live streaming rights for the “League of Legends” World Championship in the China region. Moreover, Bilibili has successively invested in several live-streaming esports companies.

Through these strategies, Bilibili has built a comprehensive platform with video as its core, community as its foundation, content as its driving force, and services as its support.

Bilibili User Net

In 2020s the user base of China’s online video market reached 960 million, a year-on-year increase of 5.7%, and the market revenue reached 209 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 32.9%. It is projected that by 2025, the user base of China’s online video market will reach 1.14 billion, and the market revenue will reach 500 billion yuan.

Bilibili holds a certain share and influence in this market. According to Bilibili’s 2020 annual report, Bilibili’s monthly active users reached 202 million, a year-on-year increase of 55%, and annual revenue reached 11.9 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 77%. Bilibili’s user base accounts for 21% of China’s online video market, and its revenue scale accounts for 5.7% of the market.

Growth Trends

Bilibili has maintained rapid and steady growth in recent years, primarily driven by the following factors:

  1. Diverse and rich content that meets users’ different interests and needs.
  2. A strong and active community, fostering high user stickiness and loyalty.
  3. Diversified services, providing users with a variety of consumption experiences.
  4. Brand influence, attracting more new users and partners.

Bilibili still has significant growth space and potential in the future. Bilibili’s target user group is Generation Z, a large and economically powerful demographic. Generation Z in China constitutes 400 million people, accounting for 28% of the total population, and is expected to reach 500 million people by 2025. Generation Z in China has a consumption power of 16 trillion yuan, expected to reach 30 trillion yuan by 2025. Bilibili currently only covers a portion of Generation Z, leaving substantial room for expansion.”

Discover more about China GenZ  by downloading our “Introducing China’s Generation Z” white paper.

Bilibili’s Competitors

Bilibili faces multiple competitors in the Chinese online video market, primarily falling into the following categories:

  1. Major video platforms such as iQiyi, Tencent Video, Youku, etc. These platforms offer a vast and diverse range of video content, including TV dramas, movies, variety shows, documentaries, etc., with high user coverage and recognition.
  2. Short video platforms like Douyin, Kuaishou, Weishi, etc. These platforms provide short and entertaining video content, including humor, food, travel, and lifestyle, with high user engagement and virality.
  3. Live streaming platforms such as Douyu, Huya, YY, etc. These platforms offer real-time and interactive video content, including gaming, entertainment, education, etc., with high user payment rates and stickiness.
  4. Vertical video platforms like Xigua Video, Pear Video, Miaopai, etc. These platforms provide content tailored to specific fields or users, including news, technology, sports, etc., with high user focus and satisfaction.

Bilibili’s differentiation from these competitors lies in:

  1. A focus on the secondary dimension culture, creating a unique and distinct brand image and user community.
  2. Leveraging the bullet comment feature to create a unique and entertaining viewing experience and community atmosphere.
  3. Combining the User-Generated Content (UGC) and Professionally Generated Content (PGC) models to build a unique and high-quality content ecosystem and creator system.
  4. Expanding into e-commerce, gaming, membership, etc., forming a unique and efficient business model and revenue structure.”

Bilibili User Analysis

Currently, Bilibili (B) has accumulated more than 3 million knowledge-based content creators. As of 2023, Bilibili’s platform boasts an average of 90.3 million daily active users, with a monthly active user count reaching 333 million, both showing a 25% year-on-year growth. 

The platform hosts an average of 3.8 million active content creators (UP) per month, a 40% year-on-year increase, and receives an average of 15.6 million monthly submissions, reflecting a 54% year-on-year growth. Users are spending an all-time high average of 96 minutes per day on the platform, resulting in a 37% year-on-year growth in total user engagement.

The Advantages of Bilibili Users

Bilibili is transitioning from a community focused on anime and related content to a more diversified platform. Its growth rate surpasses that of traditional video websites and content communities, with its advantages primarily reflected in the following three aspects:

  1. Targeted User Base: Compared to other content communities, Bilibili primarily targets the “Generation Z” demographic, which includes individuals born between 1990 and 2009, predominantly middle school and university students—a generation grown under the influence of the internet. Notably, Bilibili’s users are concentrated in first and second-tier cities, and they exhibit a strong willingness to pay. According to Bilibili’s statistics, university and middle school students from Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou make up nearly half of its user base.
  2. Cultural Characteristics of the User Base: On Bilibili, you can find a wealth of content and discussions on everything from traditional anime and manga to mainstream internet content such as fashion, beauty, and movie reviews, as well as niche areas like musical instrument tutorials, ASMR, or quantum physics. Bilibili’s content has become very comprehensive and diverse, covering various interests of the Generation Z demographic, making it an important origin and amplifier of new internet-born culture.
  3. Active Users: The age demographic of Bilibili user base is highly concentrated, with a strong purchasing power and willingness to pay, and its core users are very stable and highly active, unmatched by any other bullet-comment community. Such a user base demonstrates high engagement. The active user community enables Bilibili’s culture to significantly influence online culture at large. Occasionally, some high-quality content that receives few responses in mainstream media can become widely popular on Bilibili through word-of-mouth among users.

Given these characteristics of Bilibili’s users, the platform offers significant advantages for brands aiming to reach a young audience, easily generating buzz and driving positive word-of-mouth for brands, with higher acceptance rates.

Bilibili’s ecosystem boasts a clear competitive edge:

  • In terms of user growth, Bilibili has outperformed the broader internet industry since 2022. In 2023, Bilibili ensured high-quality user growth while continuously enhancing operational efficiency, converting premium traffic into commercial revenue. In the fourth quarter, Bilibili’s daily active users exceeded 100 million, with an average monthly active user count of 336 million, and daily average usage time exceeding 95 minutes. This indicates that Bilibili’s prior investments in commercialization have translated into a healthier operating state.
  • Bilibili’s long-standing focus on maintaining a high-quality community atmosphere and its core consumer base of 400 million will be a fundamental advantage for its advertising monetization strategy:
  • The age group of these users represents the most affluent and promising consumer segment in China.
  • High user stickiness to Bilibili’s video content leads to increased viewing times.
  • High user engagement ensures an abundance of interaction data, including interactive comments.
  • Diversified content helps build comprehensive user profiles, making it easier to create precise commercial labels.

Understanding Bilibili Features – Content & How it Works

Bilibili initially focused on content related to ACG (animation, game), but over time, it evolved into a platform centered around secondary animation and house culture with real-time bullet screens as its primary feature. 

Currently, it offers 14 major sections, including  Fanju (番剧:Anime&Manga), Guochuang (国创国产原创动画:Domestic Original Animation), Music, Dance, Game, Science and Technology, Life, Ghost Animal, Fashion, Advertising, Entertainment, Film and Television, and Projection hall.

The real-time review function (bullet screen) suspended above the video is built upon the concept of Internet bullet screens, creating a fascinating synchronous experience, fostering a virtual tribal ambiance, and cultivating a cultural community that encourages highly interactive sharing and secondary content creation.

How to Understand Bilibili’s Content and Creator Ecosystem?

Bilibili’s Platform Segments

Bilibili (B) exhibits a high degree of inclusivity in its platform content, with a level of fine-tuned operational granularity far exceeding that of other platforms. The granularity of content on Bilibili is exceptionally high.

The platform’s greatest value and differentiating advantage lie in its inclusive approach that accommodates both large and niche content. In comparison to other video platforms, Bilibili finely segments its content, embracing even niche topics.

The granularity of content is such that different individuals can find content that aligns with their specific interests and resonate with users in the same communities.

Currently, Bilibili has 32 primary sections and 90 secondary sections, with hundreds of popular tags under these secondary sections.

In contrast to other video platforms, most of which have only primary sections, and although a few platforms like Xigua and Kuaishou have a limited number of secondary sections, they are comparatively scarce. Moreover, many niche cultures beloved by the younger generation, such as VOCALOID, rap, otaku dance, and music videos (MAD), can only be found in dedicated content sections on Bilibili.”

Bilibili Content Breakdown

The reason Bilibili’s content manages to break through traditional boundaries lies in its emphasis on user feedback in content development. Bilibili consistently tracks and values user feedback, adjusting content categorizations based on user submissions and evolving interest trends. In its content ecosystem strategy, Bilibili has shifted from Original Genuine Videos (OGV) diversion to a dual diversion approach, incorporating both Professional User-Generated Videos (PUGV) and OGV. Throughout these strategic adjustments, Bilibili remains steadfast in prioritizing high-quality content as the core of its platform.

It’s worth mentioning, the initial roles undertaken by Bilibili’s Original Genuine Videos (OGV), which are professional copyrighted videos, were twofold:

1. Directly attracting new users from the core audience of the second-dimensional community: OGV content played a crucial role in drawing in users who are specifically interested in the second-dimensional culture, contributing to the platform’s growth by catering to this niche audience.

2. Providing source material for Professional User-Generated Videos (PUGV*): OGV content served as source material for PUGV creators, enriching the overall content ecosystem. By offering a diverse range of professional content, OGV indirectly attracted and engaged new users who were drawn to the platform’s broad and high-quality content offerings.

*PUGC (Professional User Generated Content), also known as “专业用户生产内容” or “专家生产内容” in Chinese, refers to a content production model that combines elements of User-Generated Content (UGC) and Professionally Generated Content (PGC).

After establishing the foundational content framework, Bilibili shifted towards a dual content diversion strategy known as ‘PUGV+OGV.’ On one hand, OGV content began to diversify, extending beyond second-dimensional content such as animated series and domestic creations to encompass genres like documentaries, variety shows, TV dramas, and movies. On the other hand, PUGV content manifested as a combination of ‘mass-appeal PUGV attracting a broad entertainment and video-centric user base’ and ‘niche PUGV content catering to the long-tail users,’ forming a strategy that caters to both mainstream and niche audiences.

In the domain of PUGV content, there is a trend toward diversity, where the interplay of ‘creators—high-quality content—fan incentives’ forms a positive loop, constituting Bilibili’s most formidable content barrier. This cycle creates a deep and mutually reinforcing ecosystem on the platform.

Bilibili’s In-house Content Production

In the realm of OGV content, Bilibili leveraged its core advantage in the second-dimensional culture, initially entering the scene through animated series. It then expanded its presence across various domains, including domestic creations, documentaries, variety shows, and film, continually intensifying efforts in producing in-house content.

Common Q&As

Why can’t I comment, even though I have an account?

After registration, you can only become a registered member. The permissions are restricted. If you want to become a full member, you still have to take a test. The exam lasts for 120 minutes, and when you enter, you will see that the exam is divided into community norm questions (Part 1, Part 2) and optional questions. You are able to copy&paste the questions onto Google for answers.

Can non-formal members upgrade to VIP members?

Yes, you can upgrade. Except for benefits that depend on formal membership features, such as exclusive emoticons for comments, all other VIP benefits can be used normally.

Can overseas users watch copyrighted content that is restricted after becoming a VIP member?

After becoming a VIP member, content that is restricted and cannot be viewed overseas will still remain inaccessible.”

If you would like to know more about Bilibili, would like to set up your official account, or need help with the development in terms of strategy on Bilibili, don’t hesitate to contact us through the form below this article. We look forward to having further communication with you.

Jil Yang
Project Manager @ DFC Studio

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