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Tencent to Shut Down Penguin FM as Consolidation Continues in Chinese Content Landscape

Updated: Jan 5

Tencent announces the closure of its audio platform, Penguin FM, as part of its ongoing efforts to streamline its content businesses.

Penguin FM
Credits: Weibo

Chinese tech titan Tencent Holdings has revealed its plans to close Penguin FM, its eight-year-old online audio platform, in September.

The move is in line with the company's strategy to consolidate its content operations. In an official statement on Wednesday, Penguin FM stated that new user registrations have been halted and existing users can no longer add funds to their accounts.

Launched in 2015, Penguin FM enabled users to access a diverse range of audio content, including music stations, books, news and chat channels. Tencent did not provide a specific reason for the decision, referring to it simply as a "business adjustment." In the statement, the company expressed regret at bidding farewell to its users. The Chinese online audio service market has experienced intense competition, particularly after the rapid rise of the US-based Clubhouse, which gained significant popularity before being blocked in China within a few months.

Among the key players in the Chinese podcasting industry, Tencent-backed Ximalaya dominates with over 100 million monthly active users (MAUs). Other competitors, Dragonfly FM and Lizhi, each boast more than 10 million MAUs, as indicated by a March report from Selection Data, a Chinese research firm. Penguin FM, positioned as a "third-tier" app, has garnered over 1 million MAUs.

Over the past year, Tencent has embarked on a series of consolidations across its various businesses, aiming to optimize costs and eliminate unprofitable ventures amidst challenging economic conditions and increased regulatory scrutiny. Last August, the conglomerate shuttered Kandian, its content creation app and two months later, Penguin Esports, its video game streaming platform, also ceased operations.

Tencent reported an 11% year-on-year revenue surge in the first quarter, driven primarily by advertising and video game sales, with profits showing a 10% increase. Nonetheless, in anticipation of an economic slowdown and a potential recession, Big Tech firms worldwide have been reducing their workforce, with thousands of jobs being cut towards the end of 2022 and into this year. Many Chinese tech companies have joined this trend.

  • Tencent Holdings is set to close Penguin FM, its online audio platform, as part of its ongoing content consolidation efforts.

  • New user registrations and fund additions for existing users have already been halted.

  • Penguin FM, launched in 2015, offered a range of audio content, including music, books, news and chat channels.

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