Forget TV, forget YouTube, want to know what over 300 million people are going crazy for right now? Live Streaming. It’s the latest craze that’s sweeping the internet with a staggering 46% of China’s internet population having used a live streaming app in June 2016. It’s more than a passing craze, or even a trend, it’s a super-trend and a part of the future social fabric.
What is Live Streaming?
Living in the west, you have probably heard about Periscope, a Twitter-owned service, where you can stream video from your mobile, or PC, and broadcast it to the world. It’s like YouTube but in real-time. As you can imagine, it’s everything from politics, to DIY, to chefs, to celebrities, comedy and everything in-between (including nudity and erotica as if it wouldn’t be there somewhere). How about the Chinese equivalents of Periscope, let’s explore.
To get started here’s a great video intro from the TechCrunch team:
A Deeper Look
In China it’s much more than simple live broadcasting, it’s all about the interaction between the broadcaster and their audiences. On Periscope a viewer who likes your broadcast can interact by typing short messages or tap the heart button to show their love. This is where Chinese apps take it to a whole new level.
As a viewer, you can send virtual gifts, which you pay for, and you can make a request of the broadcaster, if he/she likes the value of your gift, they may take up your request. That could be answering a simple question or performing which most commonly is dancing or singing backing off the Chinese love of KTV (karaoke).
It’s hugely interactive, audience and engagement driven and very monetized.
As we already mentioned it has captured some 325 million users, but why so popular, and why are so many investing into this space? Big money. It’s reported that the market will be worth $5 Billion next year, which is only $2B less than China’s movie box office takings as per Credit Suisse.
As you can see, those gifts that are purchased by viewers, add up, with the money being split between the broadcaster and the APP service. Some APPs take 10%, some up to 45%. There are many broadcasters making thousands of RMB per month from the live streaming shows, which will no doubt attract more and more.
Cam Girls vs Live Streaming
You won’t find any Chinese cam girls on live streaming apps, that got shut down fairly quickly with China being quite strict on pornography. But, that would never stop anyone from flaunting, within the rules, for extra viewers, extra gifts and in-turn extra income.
Politics and live streaming
There is not much that slips past the eyes of authorities in China and live streaming certainly doesn’t, with the Ministry of Public Security keeping a close eye on things. As per other forms of media, content deemed vulgar or not in line with community and party values is removed. One prominent case is that of Papi Jiang, she rose to become the nation’s number one internet celebrity but having caught the eyes of authorities, much of her content was removed. Post a public apology she has moved on to recently nabbing $3.5 million for an ad spot. Then, there is ‘seductive banana eating‘ which is also banned.
The Top Chinese Live Streaming Apps
The two hottest APPs are Huajiao and Inke, in amongst the hundreds competing in the space. Inke alone claims that over 50 million users have downloaded its app, staggering right?
Huya Live http://www.huya.com
Panda TV http://www.panda.tv
Other Popular Asian Live Streaming Apps
More Live Streaming explainers
WSJ’s video intro to live streaming:
CNN’s intro to live streaming featuring successful e-commerce live streamer Liu Xini: