How live streaming is the latest trend in China’s digital revolution
Updated: May 30, 2019
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Live streaming is not a new phenomenon in the West. Facebook Live and Twitter Periscope have been actively promoted by the respective platforms. But, the Chinese have taken something created in the West and turned it into something bigger, better, and more lucrative for their own market. Investors are backing it, brands are integrating it into their strategies, and Chinese netizens are eager to embrace it (as is our CEO, Andrew Collins).
What about Live Streaming? There have been an explosion of APPs in the market, more than 80 to date, targeted at different user groups. The social giant Weibo has launched its own version and is heavily promoting it for celebrities. Others like “Hua Jiao” 花椒 and “Yingke” 映客 (the number 1 app in Apple’s China store) are attracting fans in makeup and skincare, and “Dou Yu” 斗鱼 is popular with gamers. By recent estimates, the number of Chinese live streams top 325M – that is more than half the total number of active mobile internet users in China!
However, live streaming does pose some issues of free speech, and the Chinese government has been quick to regulate video feeds in an effort to eradicate any potential risk for uncouth behavior or pornography. One such regulation bans live streamers from eating bananas online. It remains to be seen whether this has been an effective measure.
Why has it become so popular? It is easy to see why live streaming has become so popular in China. With the prevalence of smartphones and easy access to high speed data and wi-fi, virtually anyone can open up an APP on their phone and start broadcasting.
Culturally speaking, celebrities are often idolized, but the path to reaching 网红 “Wanghong” status is much quicker and can happen overnight. Being an online celebrity can earn you millions of loyal fans and high value endorsements if you can create interesting content that people want to watch and follow.
Even if you have more modest dreams of super-stardom, you can still make money from live streaming. Viewers of your channel can send virtual gifts, which then can be turned into cold hard cash. Top streamers can earn thousands of dollars each month from a percentage of the revenue, with the majority chunk going to the platform.
An interesting theory is in this generation of children born under the one-child policy, there are a lot of lonely souls that are looking for ways to reach out and make a connection with other people. But one must wonder…just because they don’t have siblings, does this deny them the ability to make real human connections? Does live streaming bring humanity closer together or further apart?
Live streaming for Tourism Many live streamers have already jumped on the tourism bandwagon by live streaming their travels, sharing their truly authentic experiences and interactions with the locals. Just this week, NYC Tourism and Lang Lang, world renowned Chinese piano player and NYC Cultural Tourism Ambassador, joined forces to broadcast his double-decker Ride of Fame from the Steinway midtown Manhattan Gallery to their piano factory in Astoria Queens. More than 3.5 thousand fans simultaneously tuned in to watch their idol in “The City that Never Sleeps” (but is always moving to its own beat).