The number of live streaming app users in China topped 668 million, according to a government-backed industry body. It attributes this to better internet technology, a greater willingness among young people to share their personal lives online and increased demand for short, real-time entertainment. These users accounted for 45.8 percent of all internet users, which stood at nearly 710 million, an increase of more than 21 million from six months ago. The apps are mainly used to broadcast sports events, reality shows, online games and concerts, according to the report, which showcases the latest developments in China’s internet industry.
4 need-to-know live streaming apps in China
Over 100 million people are using this app in China, it is easy to follow and share live video, therefore tons of people are using Xiandanjia. Since there is no maximum range for how much you can get paid per day, this app is the fastest way for popular streaming stars to earn money. Popular stars can earn a minimum of 20,000 RMB (approximately $4000) a day from their loyal fans.
Since 2015, Inke started to build their app in the Chinese market. Users only need to connect with WeChat or Sina Weibo to sign up before they can easily start broadcasting to share. Broadcasts can be for friends only or to the general public. To maintain control of the platform, Inke only allows the user to withdraw 200 RMB (approximately $40) per day. In Inke users can buy “diamonds”, these “diamonds” can then be used for gifts.
The third app to know is Yizhibo, Yizhibo is very new, however their cooperation with Sina Weibo has helped fuel user adoption. Functionally, this app is very similar to its competitors but since it’s not that popular yet, it is easier to find video bloggers and for streaming stars to reach an audience. You can get an audience of around 5,000-8,000 people per broadcast.
It started off as a desktop service (a la twitch.tv). It was only later that they introduced a mobile app. Content on this service is generally more targeted towards gamer/nerd culture.
Anyone can create a live show with Inke
For instance, Inke enables users to earn money from their content, made it to the seventh spot on App Annie’s worldwide revenue rankings of iOS and Android apps in April 2016.The report said Inke has a “unique monetisation model”, where viewers can send virtual gifts to hosts through in-app purchases. The host receives 30 per cent of the gift’s value, which encourages them “to produce high-quality content”, while also keeping the platform profitable. Hosts can also “enhance the viewing experience” by adding interactive stickers.
App Annie’s report explains that Inke’s downloads and revenue started ramping up in January this year, when it received $10 million in a Series B funding round. Its popularity is driven by its “entertainment promotional focus”, for instance by broadcasting live shows for a popular South Korean band called Big Bang.
Feng Yousheng, chief executive officer of Inke, a widely used live streaming app in China, said more young people are enjoying such “fragmented entertainment” with the help of faster internet connections. “Rather than spending a lot of money and time on going to the movies, the post-1990 generation watches broadcasts in real time on phones, interacts with show hosts and has a good time during a lunch break or while waiting at bus stations,” he said.
Inke has gained popularity, as new internet celebrities have used the app to catapult themselves to fame using the platform. Users of the app, can create their own live show and invite other friends, who are users of the app, to join in the fun. The app gives ‘normal people’ the chance to create live shows without being a celebrity – a star amongst their own peer group.
Now that the app has traction – 25 million active users – the brand has now gone with a creative approach to challenge consumers to create their own shows. Inke faces a number of local “live show app” competitors, the largest being Panda TV.
The theme of the campaign is based on the idea of ‘not really fitting in’ to conventional situations, but once on Inke you become the ‘star of your own show’. The campaign, broadcast online, TV, and on subway media, pokes fun at some of China’s recent mass obsessions – including internet celebrity, fitness, basketball, and group singing.
Who can be the popular stars?
As a live video broadcaster, it is important to find your niche. Not everyone can succeed at creating live comedy, so other avenues of telecast cultivation need to be utilized. Here are a few of the most effortless and common paths.
It’s pretty hard to secure this spot, but once you have it, the money will just roll in. You don’t even have to do anything when the camera’s rolling. In fact, many of the celebs on these live streaming apps don’t do anything so much as simply exist in their broadcast.
The Good Looking
Similar to “The Celebrity” but more subject to bias, as one’s looks can both be deemed good looking and ugly. If you (think you) qualify, then all that needs to be done is to show copious amounts of face.
The Songster/Songstress Perfect candidates for Inke, due to the app’s music capabilities, these individuals spend much of their broadcast displaying their vocal prowess-or lack thereof-by practicing tunes and taking requests. It may seem like an easy path to take, but the strain on their vocal cords should not be taken lightly.
Those that go this route normally end up on Douyu, as broadcasting video gameplay solely by phone can be a hassle. These people normally start up a video game and play with commentary. Nothing else is needed. Most viewers join in either for witty commentary or simply to see how the game develops.
The Foreigner I didn’t really want to go there, but this is the sad truth. Simply with a visage that does not look native to China, these users can rake in viewers as well as monetary gifts. Normally, they will converse in Chinese—adding to the novelty—but even without this language skill, these broadcasters still draw in crowds.
These users do not have any special talent to share with the world. Instead, they stream video of themselves undergoing mundane activities, such as eating, reading, and even sleeping. Yes, there are those that watch these types of videos. It requires the least amount of effort, but needs a certain type of audience to sustain itself.
The users who earn the most money through Live-Streaming Apps
Zhang Qige, a 23-year-old woman who plays computer games and chats on her webcam, attracts hundreds of thousands of real-time viewers at once. She has more than 2 million subscribers on the website Douyu TV and an average viewership of 400,000 for each nightly show.
“They like me chatting with them,” explained Zhang, who says she earns more than 1 million yuan a year ($150,000) from her performances. “They feel like I’m talking to them face to face.”
The proliferation of such shows and sites demonstrate the entrepreneurial drive of young Chinese as well as the financial potential of social media in the country, which has 668 million people online—the world’s largest.
Viewers can buy imaginary gifts such as images of flowers or bottles of beer for their favorite performers, who receive a portion of the cash, with the site getting a hefty cut. Viewers can also send comments that pop up on screen, giving them the perception they are interacting with the host.
This business model works in China because it builds on the traditional culture of giving red envelopes stuffed with money at weddings and fruit, cigarettes or bottles of booze at Lunar New Year.
“Gifting is a common practice offline, and having that happen online to make it easier to form social relationships seems quite natural,” said Hans Tung, a managing partner at GGV Capital, a venture capital firm.
U.S. players are paying attention, but so far haven’t gotten this model to work. “There are a lot more ways people can make money now online … that is not as prevalent outside of Asia,” Tung said.
Young Chinese see virtual gifting as a fun way to spend their disposable income, said Dong Mengyuan, head of entertainment content at China Renaissance, an investment bank that focuses on Internet and technology companies.
“They don’t just only pay for their clothes, food and some other basic demands,” she said. “They also want to pay for something like entertainment.”
Many young people are exploiting the trend simply to make some money
Eighteen-year-old Wang Weiying has turned to one live broadcast site, Huajiao, to earn money to study abroad. She pulls in around 2,000 yuan ($310) each month for 20 hours of broadcasts, sometimes talking into her mobile phone as she walks along the street.
The film student started posting videos of herself cracking jokes on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo last year. She now has more than 10 million followers and has raised 12 million yuan ($1.8 million) from investors for a share of her brand, according to media reports. Suggested amounts for tipping on her WeChat channel go as high as 256 yuan ($40).
Online courses have also become money-earners. A physics teacher in southwest China made 18,842 yuan ($2,910) after more than 2,000 students signed up for his one-hour high school physics class for 9 yuan ($1.40) each, local newspaper Guiyang Daily reported last month. The hosting platform took a 20 percent cut.
3 reasons you should be investing in live-streaming
- Increasing mobile adoption spurs demand for new technology
The Global Mobile Economy Report found that smartphone adoption is reaching critical mass, with mobile devices now accounting for 60% of broadband connections. This demand from emerging markets, coupled with the increased availability of smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices is fueling the use of data-driven apps including video streaming. New mobile technologies are also connecting previously isolated populations, further opening up the market for new live-streaming apps to take hold. With this increase in demand comes an increase in supply, and app developers are constantly striving to develop live-streaming services that will outperform the next.
- Faster, stronger networks allows for live-streaming apps to evolve
The same report includes a statistic from Cisco, estimating that smartphones and tablets generate 37 times more data traffic than feature phones with 4G smartphones generating almost three times as much data traffic as their 3G counterparts. The rapid increase of smartphones tapping into mobile broadband is increasing data usage immensely, and as faster and stronger networks emerge, apps are evolving to better function at prime speeds and data consumption. Live-streaming apps are constantly evolving and the opportunity for a new app to enter the market that uses less data while providing optimal performance will take hold.
- New mobile hardware creates ease of app integration and amps up competition
As rapid smartphone adoption continues across the globe, the market for new products and services to be created, whether for apps or the production of hardware components, is wide open. Live-streaming apps, hardware components that save battery power, and high-quality cameras are fueling creativity and the building blocks of connectivity. Consumers are now realizing the potential for these live-streaming services to expand to include Internet-of-things devices. This realization is spurring competition, setting up the opportunity for developers to tap into the needs and wants of consumers in unprecedented ways.
Despite the saturation by big-name players in live-streaming, there are technological improvements to be made and the industry is only going to grow, making way for new players in the space to innovate. Whether you’re an investor looking at a new mobile opportunity, or an entrepreneur seeking a growing industry to infiltrate, live-streaming should be on your radar.
How advertisers are tapping into China’s crazy live-streaming culture
To launch a double-chocolate Oreo flavor in China, Mondelez tapped two popular singers to ham it up in a live stream. One star, Da Zhangwei, had cookies shoved into his mouth while he sang Oreo’s ingredient list to the tune of a love song. Fans were asked whether the other singer, Xue Zhiqian, should eat an Oreo smothered with fermented bean curd and wasabi. They voted no; he did it anyway.
The blend of celebrity and goofy antics hit the sweet spot: The show got 4.5 million unique live views when it aired early this month on four Alibaba platforms, according to Dentsu’s Carat, which was behind the campaign.
Live streaming has exploded in China in the past year; in 2015, it was a $1.8 billion industry, according to Huachuang Securities, which predicted it could expand to $15.9 billion by 2020. And more advertisers are trying it, including P&G, Adidas and Sony. Marketers’ efforts range from straight forward (store tours, product demonstrations) to bizarre, elaborate pieces of performance art. Condom brand Durex promised a live show with 50 couples in bed; they performed calisthenics and snacked on bananas, but there was no actual hanky panky, which annoyed viewers.
Some campaigns, like the effort from Oreo and Carat, tap directly into the mania for online shopping in China, the world’s biggest e-commerce market and the biggest internet market, with 710 million people online. Over the past three weeks, Carat says, 26 million people watched the Oreo video on Alibaba’s Tmall marketplace.
The buddy humor was designed to promote Oreo’s playful brand image and its new flavor, called Double Enjoyment. People could click a buy button on their mobile screen to drop the Oreos into their shopping cart. The live broadcast set a sales record for Oreo on Tmall, the agency said, without divulging specific numbers.
Crazes come and go at neck-snapping speed in the world’s largest online marketplace, but China’s live-streaming phenomenon shows staying power and is already a significant business. Tiny startups and internet giants alike are making money selling virtual gifts—flowers, cars, toys—to people keen to reward their favorite live-streamers. As the business matures, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and others may start selling ads on the most popular streams.
“This isn’t a fad that will disappear, as the business model has proven to be viable,” said Zhu Xiaohu, managing partner at GSR Ventures Management Co., who invested in Inke, one of about 200 live-streaming startups that have attracted an estimated $750 million in venture capital. “But the amount of interest in this sector is so high, bubbles could be forming and many will fail.”
But the Chinese version of live-streaming has caught on much more quickly and broadly. Tens of millions of young people (many of them single men) live in soulless megalopolises far from where they grew up and are seeking human connection—even if it means watching and interacting with a stranger eating dinner. “China’s wide adoption of mobile phones and the loneliness brought on by a fast-paced migrating society means people are more willing to connect this way,” says Jia Wei, who runs the live-streaming division for Nasdaq-listed social media app Momo Inc.
Many streams—known as showrooms—feature ordinary people doing remarkably ordinary things. Zhou Xiaohu, a 30-year-old safety foreman at a construction site in Inner Mongolia, is one of 10 million active users on Inke, a two-year-old Beijing startup. Like many Inke users, Zhou logs on after work and watches until bedtime. Zhou, who’s single and bored, flicks through other people’s showrooms and sometimes streams footage of himself eating dinner and watching television. He has plenty to choose from; as many as 60,000 people are broadcasting at the same time.
“It satisfies my needs,” says Zhou, who has spent about 700 yuan ($105) gifting people he follows and earned about 200 yuan in return. “Think of it as a substitute for TV shows and games.”
The most popular streams attract as many has 400,000 people at a time. They often feature famous people. Wang Jianlin, founder of real estate colossus Dalian Wanda Group, streamed video of himself playing poker with associates on a private jet via an app backed by his son. More than 300,000 people watched, and many sent virtual gifts to China’s richest man. Many showrooms feature women wearing revealing clothes and doing pretty much anything that comes to mind—shopping, playing video games, seductively eating fruit.
Top streamers earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a month, according to Momo’s Jia. They get as much as 50 percent of the revenue generated from admirers’ virtual gifts; the hosting companies keep the rest. While streaming is a relatively small chunk of revenue for big companies like Alibaba and Tencent Holdings Ltd., the addictive videos are a useful way to keep users locked into their sites. Smaller companies are doing a thriving business. In the first quarter, Momo generated $15.6 million in gift commissions.
Edited by Lisa