New Oriental bets on culture and tourism livestreaming

Online education giant New Oriental has been dropping hints that culture and tourism content will be its main growth direction in future. 

At a recent press conference, the education company’s CEO Zhou Chenggang said finding talented tour guides skilled at giving talks will be the key to the success of New Oriental in future. Zhou also announced during a separate broadcast on April 12 that the culture and tourism output of the company will for now be divided into two types – a ‘Rural China’ branch led by founder Yu Minhong and a ‘World Metropolises’ segment led by Zhou.

This is the latest effort by New Oriental to expand its footfall in livestreaming, having first set up its Douyin channel Dongfang Zhenxuan in 2021. The channel, which initially combined live sessions promoting agricultural products with English teaching, eventually became an online sensation in 2022.

New Oriental was founded in 1993 by Yu Minhong, who was coaching college students in English at Peking University at the time. The company made a name for itself as a provider of test preparation courses and online tutoring in China, becoming the country’s biggest private education company.

The education company has had to look for creative strategies to stay afloat after the introduction of the double reduction policy in 2021 saw a whole industry collapse overnight. No longer allowed to generate profit from academic courses, New Oriental let go of 60,000 employees and pivoted to selling agricultural products via livestream.

Realising that lecturing skills in fact make for captivating livestreams, the company has since been doubling down on the medium. The New Oriental now has multiple livestream channels on Douyin, each with subscribers numbering in the tens of millions.

The company began pivoting to culture and tourism content a few months ago, posting daily videos on its spin-off channel “See the World”. With Zhou Chenggang’s statement that New Oriental will invest in specialist “tour guides” for the channel, it is expected that its content will become more explicitly educational.


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