Top livestreamer Dong Yuhui of Oriental Selection, launched the hotly anticipated first livestream on his own channel on 9 January. The 4-hour sales session took place on Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese sister app and earned 163 million RMB (22.73 million USD) in gross merchandise value (GMV). The livestream was mostly the sale of agricultural produce and other foods like canned goods [SL1] and sweets.
A total of 54.31 million people viewed the livestream which led to the channel gaining over 3 million subscribers. Dong’s loyal fans, who call themselves his “Mothers-in-Law” sent flowers from all over the country to celebrate the launch. On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, the topic “Dong Yuhui’s new account sold over 100 million RMB on first livestream” (#董宇辉新号首播带货超1亿元#) reached number 5 on the Hot Search list with 130 million views.
The channel is called “Walking with Hui” (与辉同行, “Yu Hui Tong Xing”, note that “与辉” has the same pronunciation as Dong’s name Yuhui). It was founded after the “essayette” controversy. Last December, disagreement over whether Dong drafted the literary introduction for his province-themed livestreams between the “Mothers-in-Law” and the editors in his team ended with a boycott of Oriental Selection, the company stock plummeting and ultimately the dismissal of Oriental Selection’s CEO Sun Dongxu over his inappropriate comment of the event.
Yu Minhong, CEO of New Oriental, Oriental Selection’s parent company, stepped in to become interim CEO of the livestreaming company. This was when Dong’s new team was appointed, and new company and livestream channel was founded. Incidentally, Yu also appeared on the channel to show support. Although having an independent channel for Dong Yuhui can maximise his ability to drive sales and insulate him from any further corporate intrigue or controversy, Oriental Selection’s main account will inevitably lose followers from the “Mothers-in-Law”. But the good news is that the company stock quickly rallied after the livestream and share prices increased 3% on 10 January.