It can hardly imagine how popular live-streaming sites are among the younger generation in China. Currently, nearly every social media platform in China has already had or is trying to release the live-streaming feature.
Since the internet was born, new forms of user generated content are constantly created, and firstly accepted by the millennials. After the explosion of the internet content such as online fictions, online games and social videos, live-streaming has been undergoing a boom in China.
In fact, live streaming sites is not a very new thing, it occurred in games broadcast for years. Like twitch.tv in western countries and Douyu in China, both are famous among those who play the game called League of Legends. However, with the wing of 4G network and smart phones, the online content like live streams became possible to be more mobilizable. Therefore, the bar to access and get involved in live streams is lowered, and live-streaming is getting more popular in a strange way.
Unlike those game live-streaming channels, if you open a webcam session via the social media in China, you will find some channels are really boring. Since everyone can be a host, a lot people is willing to have their own channel to share whatever they want. Except for the common channels, for instance, live singing show or live makeup teaching, some live streams will only have the broadcasters siting there to answer the question from the screen or eating things without any conversation.
However, if people who have a dream of becoming a web celebrity, everything will not as easy as thought. Deyingzi Chen, 20, who just graduated from her bachelor degree in Monash University, is operating a live streams channel on Daxiang.TV (a live-streaming application for smart phone users to access). She’s been doing live casting for a couple of months. By sharing her life in Melbourne, her channel has attracted thousands of followers.
When asking for the reason why she starts a live stream, Chen explains that.
“To be honest, I become a host on the webcam channel not for my personal interest but for my company want me to do so.”
Chen told that considerable part of the broadcasters on those sites is picked up by the professional groups and companies. Once the broadcaster was selected, the company will spend time and money to package and prompt them. It is not an individual case but an irrefutable fact.
In China, there are a number of live-streaming sites, including YY, Douyu and Elephant.tv. It can be divided into three different types: interactive live-streaming, game live-streaming and entertainment live-streaming. Despite the government’s censorship, such sites are still attracting more and more users. According to media report, some popular hosts can earn more than 1 million per year, others who is extraordinary popular can be even more. Lured by the high returns, many organizations and individuals are eager to have a finger in the pie.
Some of the hosts might like Chen, who was ‘fortunately’ selected and prompted by a professional group, and the rest might be whom voluntarily contacted the platforms with the purpose of getting fame or money. Getting panning and promotion from live streaming platform are the first step, whether these broadcasters can attract their fans is another lesson.
“People might think my job is easy, but it actually not. The time I spent on the channel is far more than a nine-to-five job.”
Chen said. “I have to host for the broadcast every day, from 12:00am to 14:00pm, or from 18:00pm to 20:00pm, sometimes even from 23:00pm to 1:00am on next morning. Compare with other broadcasters, I think I work really hard on preparing every broadcasts.” Chen indicated that she always spends nearly half an hour on dressing up and reviewing the live-streaming content.
Generally, a large proportion of webcam sessions on are hosted by young and beautiful women like Chen. The data from New Express Daily cites shows that 26% of live-streaming viewers are under 18, while 60% of those creating the content are under 22 years old. Also it says that three-quarters of those watching are male, and they are more willing to spend money to watch live streams.
Yongxian Liu, a sophomore for his undergraduate study in University of Melbourne, watches live streaming occasionally. When asking why he becomes engaged with watching webcam sessions, Liu said that “from my perspective, because I’m studying aboard without any relatives and old friends, sometimes I’ll feel depressed and lonely. If I have innermost feelings that I don’t want share with the surroundings, I prefer to chat with those live broadcasters, anonymously, it might be a way to pastime or finding solace.”
“However, if you really want to chat with the popular hosts, and then you would have to spend money.” Liu said. At present, no matter which sites or platforms that people use to watch live-streaming, there will be the chatting feature displaying in a bullet screen. It is a problem for the ordinary channels, but in the popular channels, text will be rolling extremely fast, and the hosts will only pick up the staring questions.
Live-streaming platforms are always knowing how to hook the viewers to spend money. Therefore, the function of sending virtual gifts is generated. For those spending money on buying virtual gifts, the platforms will give them a special color when displaying their nickname. In addition, when they open the webcam sessions, there will be a notification for the broadcasters. Also, on the homepage of every hosts, there will be a ranking display who has given largest amount of gifts.
Asked the reason why Liu willing to spend money on buying virtual gifts, he answered with a self-mockery, “It seems closer to the one I cannot reach in life. You can see, I’m not a handsome guy that girls will fall in love with in first sight.” And continued, “in the reality, do you know how much you need to spend to chase a beautiful girl? With live-streaming, you only need to spend a small amount of money, they will come and say hello to you.”
It sounds funny, but the virtual gifts are the major income for both the hosts and the platforms of live streams.
“The income will separate into several parts. The platforms and sites account for 50%, the union of online broadcasters or the backroom teams occupy 10% to 20%, while the hosts themselves will have vary from 30% to 40%”
Said Ziwei Li, a staff in an online platforms digging belle to become live-streaming broadcasters.
Even so, their income is not stable, it depends on how popular the broadcaster and channel is. Part of the channel will have placement adverting, by promoting products and receiving gifts from friends, the broadcasters can easily have 10 thousand Chinese Yuan per month.
The smaller channels like Chen’s are also have tasted the sweetness of live-streaming, but she also admitted, “I cannot become a live-streaming hosts all life long, it is the position where youth is prized.”