YouKu vs YouTube 🥊 The Ultimate Debate | Who Really Wins?

YouKu vs YouTube 🎥 Find Out Who Wins The Battle

Although YouKu might seem like a Chinese version of YouTube, there are actually a lot of differences between these two apps… despite the similarity in platforms. Which one do we prefer? Find out below, and why!
YouKu vs YouTube - Who Wins?
YouKu vs YouTube – Who Wins?

Youku vs YouTube is effectively Chinese YouTube vs YouTube!

As with many successful apps and websites, China loves to create their own version.

Don’t believe us? Check these out

It’s just how it works in China! Many popular foreign apps are banned in China and to fill the void for the locals, the Chinese equivalent is provided instead!

YouTube is no different, only accessible in China through a VPN (of which you can subscribe to a free or paid service).

But if I don’t have a VPN in China, how can I go about watching the videos I want to watch – hello YouKu. It even sounds relatively similar, doesn’t it?

YouKu (优酷) and YouTube are so much more than just video platforms, they are evolving at a rate of knots, in tandem.

Whether it be Movie Trailers, TV Shows, Music Videos, Learning Videos or anything else – you can easily waste your days away watching video after video on them.

Let’s discover then how they differ, what’s the same and who is the daddy of online video

YouKu vs YouTube // Quick Comparisons

YouKu vs YouTube // Who Was First?

YouKu vs YouTube // Advertisements

YouKu vs YouTube // Interface

YouKu vs YouTube // Functionality for Brands

YouKu vs YouTube // Strengths/Aims

YouKu vs YouTube // FAQs

YouKu vs YouTube // Quick Comparisons

NameYouTubeYouKu / 优酷
Users2.5 billion monthly500 million monthly

YouKu vs YouTube // Who Was First?

YouTube wins the race, by a year!

YouTube began back in 2005 with YouKu following a year later in 2006.

DID YOU KNOW – After Google, YouTube is the world’s BIGGEST SEARCH ENGINE. An astounding fact given the fact it’s a video sharing platform.

Searches on YouTube beat competition from the likes of Baidu, Yahoo and Bing!

SCORE – YouTube 1-0 YouKu

YouKu vs YouTube // Advertisements

Both YouKu and YouTube allow for monetising and producing adverts for watchers.

However, YouKu’s advertisement features are stronger and far more dynamic than that of YouTube currently.

First and foremost, you know those adverts that appear at the start of a video on YouTube – you can skip them after 5 seconds normally, right? Not the case on YouKu.

For many this would absolutely be much more of an annoyance – but unless you subscribe to YouKu VIP, you’ve got 30 seconds to sit through before you can watch your video.

YouKu advert before the start of the video. See the 广告 characters bottom-left, that means Advert in Chinese.

Pause Adverts in YouKu

EXAMPLE – YouKu has a smart feature called a “Pause Advert”. This means when the user pause a video rather than showing a still image of the video, a static advert pops up.

This is a smart move from YouKu and takes advantage of something we all do a lot without probably realising. It gives merchants thousands of other opportunities to target potential customers.

A Pause Advert on YouKu mid-video

Corner Adverts in YouKu

A very smart feature of YouKu’s that was introduced in 2015 after a merger with TuDou… corner adverts selling related products to the video.

Video makers have the chance to pair products with their video in a bid to sell products and earn money through their channel.

It’s the perfect partnership for the video maker and the merchant (such as Taobao and Jingdong).

It also does the watcher plenty of favours.

EXAMPLE – You are watching a video comparing two different sets of headphones, the corner advert will pop-up mid-video taking you to a seller of this product – BINGO, it’s yours in a matter of minutes, no need to search around.

So whether you like adverts or not, there is no denying for the video creator and the seller of the product, they are a superb inclusion to YouKu videos, especially given the fact YouKu boasts 500 million users a month!

YouTube has made steps to follow suit and although it does actually implement corner ads, the functionality is currently much weaker, with more of a premise on suggesting other content, to keep people on YouTube more than anything else.

SCORE – YouTube 1-1 YouKu

YouKu vs YouTube // Interface

Whereas Chinese apps are great for driving sales and e-commerce, they always seem to lack when it comes to design, although it can be argued this is a matter of opinion.

Being a westerner who likes simple, clean design – the bright, neon, hectic colours and characters on a screen are never likely to please.

Whereas the simplistic and smooth nature of the YouTube design would.

All Chinese apps are similar in this sense. Taobao and Jingdong, two of the biggest hitters are clear examples of this.

Big, bold colours, pop-ups everywhere, things jumping out at you – it’s a lot to take in, IF you aren’t used to it, though, I’m sure it’s not an issue.

Therefore something like Interface very much comes down to personal preference but in terms of Mobile functionality and general design principles, I believe YouTube is streets ahead of YouKu.

SCORE – YouTube 2-1 YouKu

iQiyi Review // China’s Netflix vs Actual Netflix Thumbnail

iQiyi Review // China’s Netflix vs Actual Netflix

iQiyi Review | The best way to learn a language is immersion. We take a look at how China’s version of Netflix, iQiyi, compares to the Netflix.

YouKu vs YouTube // Functionality for Brands

Back towards e-commerce again and that means YouKu take centre stage again.

If you are a brand, quite simply, there is so much more ability to promote and sell on YouKu than YouTube.

How? Here’s how:

  • A short-promo video (something which YouTube can also do, but to a lesser level)
  • Ability to create polls – driving vital engagement with users
  • Adding text layers to videos (something which YouTube can also do, but to a lesser level)
  • Set up online stores

The last point here is probably the most significant difference.

Users can watch videos of products and instantly buy them on the channel – it doesn’t take an expert to see how powerful that can be.

This can probably be explained by the fact that Alibaba now owns YouKu, and if you don’t know who Alibaba are… you really should!

YouTube is currently lightyears behind in that sense. Although anyone can monetise on YouTube with the right amount of reach to followers, selling a product per say is another thing entirely.

SCORE – YouTube 2-2 YouKu

QQ Music Review (2023) 🥊 QQ Music vs Spotify Thumbnail

QQ Music Review (2023) 🥊 QQ Music vs Spotify

QQ Music Review. Learning Chinese through listening to Chinese songs is one of the best ways to learn Chinese like a native.

Which one do you like better? Leave us a comment and join in the discussion.

YouKu vs YouTube // Strengths/Aims

So we can see despite the fact they offer similar end products, the aims are quite different.

YouKu is all about driving customer sales whereas YouTube wants to provide as much related video content as possible.

Here is a quick snapshot of some of the ways they differ:

Allows users to skip advertsAdverts cannot be skipped
Focus on user-generated contentStrong e-commerce focus
History of siding towards a shorter video formatMore focus towards TV Shows and Movies
Less CompetitionStrong Competition in China
Wants to build a worldwide basisStrongly focused towards the Chinese market
Works to stamp out copyright infringementsNo real effort to stop copyrighted material

A brief look at the summary shows that both have different focuses and even a different audience types entirely.

YouKu is completely focused on the Chinese market so it’s worth going as far to say if you have no interest in China or Chinese movies/TV, then you’d never need or want to use YouKu.

That said if you have an interest in China and it’s TV culture, YouKu is a great place to brush up on your Mandarin skills.

It can also be said that you can do this on YouTube. In fact, YouTube is a great place to learn a language.

YouKu also has to deal with a number of strong competitors locally in China. YouTube does not face this problem with it utterly dominating the market in many countries.

Ultimately it comes down to links with China and Mandarin, if you have few to non-existent links, stick with YouTube.

If you are a “China enthusiast”, give YouKu a go and see if you can handle all the adverts!

FINAL SCORE – is there really a winner? Two great apps, that do similar things but ultimately have different audiences and different aims. Let’s see who’s the more successful in the future!

Have you used YouKu and YouTube before? What are your thoughts on the two? Who comes out on top in your opinion? Tell us below!

Discover LLN – the brilliant new way to learn a language whilst watching Netflix

YouKu vs YouTube // FAQs

Which was founded first, YouTube or YouKu?

YouTube began back in 2005 with YouKu following a year later in 2006.

Can you skip adverts on YouKu?

You know those adverts that appear at the start of a video on YouTube – you can skip them after 5 seconds normally, right? Not the case on YouKu.

What is YouKu in Chinese?


Can you advertise on YouKu?

Yes, YouKu makes it super easy for brands to promote and sell with the following tools:

A short-promo video (something which YouTube can also do, but to a lesser level)

Ability to create polls – driving vital engagement with users

Adding text layers to videos (something which YouTube can also do, but to a lesser level)

Set up online stores

Which company bought out YouKu?

Alibaba, in 2015, paving the way for the app to become more e-commerce driven.

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    […] Youku is a blend of YouTube and Netflix. You’ll find plenty of clips similar to YouTube but also full-length episodes of Chinese TV shows for lots of genres like drama and reality television. […]

  2. Typical China has it's own everything

    1. Max Hobbs


    2. YouTube has one thing going for it. This thing alone makes it beat Youku. It is that there's just so much content on YouTube. You won't find that level of content on Youku.

      1. LTL Team HQ

        Not wrong Momo!

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  4. YouTube is the daddy, simple as. Youku gets nowhere close

    1. Max Hobbs

      The world's 2nd biggest search engine! 😲