HUYA Inc., a Chinese Internet technology company with live streaming as its core business, has released its third quarter financial results on Tuesday. The company has recorded quarter-on-quarter growth of 3.7 percent in Huya Live’s mobile MAU, reaching 86 million, with total net revenues standing at 1.65 billion yuan ($225.8 million) and Non-GAAP net income of 103.3 million yuan. Meanwhile, Huya has been executing its $100 million share repurchase program since its announcement in August.
The overall performance of HUYA for the third quarter can be seen as another starting point, as the company has a new chairman in place since May and has new acting co-CEOs in early August. At the same time, the new management team has provided a strategic update in the company business roadmap, with an aim to diversify its business via offering more game-related services. Huang Junhong, Acting Co-CEO and Senior Vice President of Huya, commented at the earnings conference call that the strategic shift “will empower us to better capture our gamer users’ commercial value by satisfying more of their game-related needs in addition to their content consumption needs. Our main goal this year is to build the business infrastructure required to support these new services while developing terms of cooperation with game studios.”
Before looking deep into Huya’s latest movements in the strategic transition, let’s take a look at its quarterly financial and operating performance first.
According to Wu Xin, Huya’s Acting Co-CEO and Vice President of Finance, Huya’s performance in the quarterly revenues is mainly “due to the challenging market environment and Huya’s proactive business adjustments in support of strategic transformation and prudent operations,” but the gross margin has shown resilience, reaching 13.9% in the third quarter. Wu Xin also pointed out that the company has continued to optimize the operational efficiency within the organization, with total operating expenses in the third quarter decreasing by 20.7% year-over-year and 8.7% quarter-over-quarter, respectively.
And as Huya announced its share repurchase program of up to $100 million over a 12-month period in mid-August 2023, according to Wu, Huya has purchased a total of $9 million of shares as of the end of the third quarter. “We will continue to execute our share repurchase program, reinforcing our commitment to enhancing shareholder value,” she said at the earnings call.
With respect to strategic transition, during the third quarter, some progress has been made relating to Huya’s commercialization focus on more game-related services, which can be seen in enhanced game distribution capabilities, in-game item sales explorations, and adjusted advertising services approach.
Take in-game item sales business for an example. Huya has built its in-game item mall function and added it to Huya Live app, which allows users to have a convenient overview of game products and provides consumer rewards to maintain users’ purchase stickiness. Thus far, Huya has reached cooperation with eight game titles on in-game item sales, including Honor of Kings, CrossFire, and Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils 2 Mobile, and users can purchase directly through the shopping cart on some selected steamers’ live channels for a small number of skins and weapons from the games mentioned above. According to Huang Junhong, “going forward, we will further refine the entire purchasing experience, from buying game props on Huya and binding users’ Huya accounts with their respective game accounts through claiming purchased virtual items within games.”
Furthermore, Huya is actively exploring the application of AIGC technology across its broadcaster content production chain, in an aim to elevate the quality of content creation, content production efficiency and user engagement. At the earnings conference, the management offered an introduction to the features of recently developed AI Assistant, which is capable of intelligent chat, fan interaction, game analysis and mini-game widget functions as well as providing an array of content creation tools.
The intelligent chat feature can be of great assistance to the broadcasters. Powered by Huya’s tens-of-billions parameter Large Language Model trained on data from broadcasters’ streaming content on the Huya platform, together with natural language processing technologies, the AI Assistant can imitate a broadcaster’s style and tone while chatting with viewers during live steaming for an authentic and entertaining user experience. With respect to game analysis, the AI Assistant also can help view and evaluate game scenes through image recognition and AI reasoning capabilities, which empowers steamers to offer analysis of gameplays in the real-time for its viewers.
As Huang Junhong said at the earnings conference, he stressed that “the steady execution of our strategic transformation plan this quarter laid a solid foundation for our future development. We are confident that as we strengthen our game live streaming content ecosystem and expand our presence in the game value chain, we will drive more balanced and sustainable business growth in the long term.”
Being a leading game live streaming platform, Huya has remained committed to offering diversified and quality content to the users, and strengthening the core user base. For licensed e-sports events, Huya broadcasted roughly 80 third-party professional e-sports tournaments in the third quarter of the year, with total viewership reaching 480 million. Meanwhile, the company has applied strict procurement processes for licensed e-sports tournaments, among others, to improve the ROIs of licensed content.
For self-produced content, Huya has continued to enhance its own IP matrix and increase these IP’s market influence. During the same period, Huya broadcasted about 30 self-organized e-sports tournaments and entertainment PGC shows, with a cumulative viewership of over 110 million. What’s more, Huya participated in the ChinaJoy gaming expo in Shanghai, where the company held a series of on-site competitions for HoK, LoL, LoL Wild Rift and Valorant involving fans, professional players, and popular broadcasters, promoting the integration of live content and offline activities.
It is also worth noting that the Huya platform broadcasted the Asian Games 2023, in which the event featured the debut of e-sports competitions as medal programs. The Asian Games e-sports events attracted broad attention from Huya users, with LoL and HoK events ranking among the top five of all tournaments in the third quarter in terms of Peak Concurrent Users. Furthermore, the Asian Games e-sports broadcasts on Huya platform showcased advanced 4K HDR technology and the company’s commitment to superior viewing experiences. Huya was the only domestic broadcast platform to provide 4K HDR support across multiple devices, Android and iOS app, website and PC client included, for both live streaming and on-demand video replay, in an effort to bring more delicate detail and richer color to the e-sports game scenes for the users.
For Huya, the third quarter represents a transition period. Huya’s initial progress in strategic shift has shown determination in expanding its presence in the game value chain. Accompanied with rich and successful experience in game live steaming, as well as its solid operational and financial position, there is greater potential for Huya to explore.