Global Media Intelligence 2019: China

Key Features

China’s consumers are leading adopters of smart devices, including digitally enabled wristbands and smart-home items.

  • Internet users in China registered some of the most dramatic adoption rates for smartwatches and smart wristbands globally in H1 2019, at 16.4% and 18.5%, respectively, according to GlobalWebIndex. In fact, they were more likely to own one of these devices than a game console (13.7%). Smartwatch and smart wristband penetration was especially high among the most affluent individuals, at around 25%. (However, the population sampled in China skews very strongly urban and younger. Both factors have a marked influence on the data; see note below.)
  • In addition, 15.7% of internet users owned at least one smart-home device, such as a smart doorbell or appliance. Penetration was even higher among those ages 25 to 34 and affluent residents.
  • As of H1 2019, more than half (55.2%) of internet users in China used voice assistants at least once per month, GlobalWebIndex found. Respondents ages 16 to 34 were most likely to have used voice search or a voice command via a digital device, though nearly 48% of 45- to 54-year-olds had also done so.
  • Smart TV ownership stood at 41.7% in H1 2019—a figure essentially unchanged from H1 2018. Meanwhile, older devices that link TVs to the internet are gradually becoming obsolete—a trend reflected in very low ownership of TV streaming sticks and similar devices (8.5% of internet users).

More than nine in 10 internet users watch digital video; digital audio is hugely popular, too.

  • Three-quarters (74.2%) of internet users in China ages 16 to 64 had viewed video content via subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services such as BesTV or Netflix in the month prior to polling.
  • Around two-thirds of internet users had watched TV programs they’d recorded earlier, while eight in 10 used broadcast channels’ catch-up or on-demand services.
  • GlobalWebIndex found that 96.2% of internet users had used video-on-demand (VOD) services in the month prior to polling. Consumption of digital audio was near-universal, as well, at 92.8%. Both of those activities surpassed social media, which engaged 88.7% of internet users.
  • Figures for time spent also point to the prominence of streaming. Internet users devoted an estimated 1 hour, 35 minutes (1:35) per day to online TV and video; combined with the 1:27 spent daily with music streaming, the total surpassed the 2:13 captured by social media. But we should remember that streaming can be carried out simultaneously with social networking on almost any device.


Karin von Abrams


Joanne DiCamillo
Kathleen Hamblin
Chart Editorial Manager
Dana Hill
Director of Production
Erika Huber
Copy Editor
Stephanie Meyer
Senior Production Artist
Heather Price
Deputy Editor
Hilary Rengert
VP, Research Strategy
Amanda Silvestri
Senior Copy Editor