Live streaming statistics: Is live.ly or Periscope the most popular?

By Mike Sonders

live.ly–a live-streaming video app from the company behind musical.ly, the “lip syncing music video” app that’s mega-popular with teens–launched just over three months ago on iOS. Within the next week, it will have already claimed 3.5 million downloads on iOS in the U.S.

To mark that milestone and live.ly’s recent release on Android, we’re pulling live streaming statistics from SurveyMonkey Intelligence’s database of U.S. mobile app intelligence to examine live.ly’s latest stats on iOS, comparing them to those of its parent app, musical.ly.

We’re then comparing the statistics of live.ly to those of Periscope and YouNow to see if there’s a new most popular live streaming app on iOS.

Live streaming statistics: The rise of live.ly

After launching on iOS in late June of this year, live.ly jumped to the top of the App Store charts and topped 2 million downloads within a mere two weeks, driven in no small part by musical.ly promoting the app to its existing base of “100 million” users.

To put the rapid adoption of live.ly in perspective: Of apps released in the past six months on both iOS and Android, only the behemoth Pokemon GO has more monthly active users (MAU) than live.ly in the U.S.

Downloads

livel.ly’s rate of daily downloads (i.e., installs) fell rather quickly after the initial surge. It now gets around 9 thousand downloads per day in the U.S., which is around of 40% of musical.ly’s daily download rate of ~23 thousand on iOS:

musical.ly gets most of its downloads from its Android app–another 41 thousand downloads per day in the U.S.–so it wouldn’t be surprising if live.ly more than doubles its total download rate now that it’s availabe on Android.

Active users

How many of those installers are actually using the app? At last count, live.ly has almost 4.6 million monthly active users (MAU), or around 33% of musical.ly’s 13.7 million MAU on iOS smartphones in the U.S.

Curiously, even though musical.ly gets many more downloads on Android vs. iOS, it has many more active users on iOS (~13.7 million) than on Android (~3.2 million) thanks mostly to worse user-retention rates on Android.

Given the identical target audiences and related value propositions of the two apps, this could signal that the Android launch could mean a dramatic increase in downloads for live.ly but only a moderate increase in active users.

Also, it’s becoming clear why live.ly launched on iOS well before development on the Android version had finished.

User overlap

Of live.ly’s active users, almost 100% of them also use the musical.ly app. No surprise, there; the apps are integrated (you can watch live.ly streams on musical.ly) and musical.ly promoted the new live-streaming app to its users.

But only 33% of musical.ly users also use the livel.ly app. So musical.ly is far short of driving full adoption of both apps among its core users.

Engagement

User engagement rates in the live.ly app also fall well-short of the bar set by musical.ly.

live.ly users use their app on a little over 7 days per month, on average, while musical.ly’s users on iOS phones are in their app ~13 days per month.

Again, musical.ly fares much worse on Android, with its smartphone users on that platform only visiting the app 6 days per month, on average. That’s less than half of its days-per-month engagement rate on iOS.

live.ly users use the app for a little over 3 sessions per day, for a total of ~3.5 minutes per day, on average. musical.ly users are in their app just over 5 sessions per day, for a average total of just over 11.5 minutes per day.

Retention

On a more painful note, live.ly users are abandoning the app (or churning) at a rate higher than musical.ly users are churning.

Of all the users who show up in the live.ly app in one week, around 26.5% of them will not show up the following week. Compare this to musical.ly’s much-more-favorable weekly churn rate on iOS of just under 11%.

Put another way: live.ly’s weekly user retention rate is about 73.5%, versus musical.ly’s weekly retention rate of ~89%. musical.ly does a much better job of retaining its users on iOS.

The story once again looks different on Android. As mentioned earlier, musical.ly does a much worse job of retaining its users on Android, with a weekly user churn rate of almost 32%. (That’s a weekly retention rate of ~68%.)

Revenue

On the other hand, live.ly seems to monetize its users at a better rate than musical.ly does using in-app purchases on iOS: livel.ly average revenue per daily active user (ARPDAU) from in-app purchases is 8/10ths of a cent ($0.008) vs. musical.ly’s 3/10ths of a cent ($0.003).

That superior monetization rate allows live.ly to drive revenue in the U.S. every day (~$10 thousand) that’s well over half of the amount of musical.ly’s U.S. daily revenue (~$18.1 thousand) with only one-third of the active users.

So, except perhaps in terms of revenue rates, live.ly isn’t living up to the lofty expectations that might have been set by musical.ly’s app performance.

But we’re arguably comparing apples to pears; while musical.ly and live.ly are both apps for taking videos of yourself and showing your creativity, they still offer different core features (recording vs. live-streaming video) and value propositions.

Does the picture of live.ly improve when we compare it directly to other live-streaming apps?

live.ly vs. Periscope and YouNow

A fairer analysis live.ly’s statistics to date would compare them against the live streaming statistics from similar apps. For this next section, we’ll position live.ly’s results against those from these two popular live-streaming apps:

  • Periscope — This Twitter-owned app provides a great comparable for live.ly since it’s the most well-known and most-used of the standalone live-streaming video apps.
  • YouNow — This app is live.ly’s closest competitor in terms of core functionality and demographics. According to demographic data from SurveyMonkey Intelligence, the average users of both live.ly and YouNow are female, white, and haven’t completed high school (i.e., they’re mostly white teenage girls).

Before we jump into the usage and revenue numbers, it’s worth pointing out that while only 15% of live.ly users also use YouNow, a whopping 38% of YouNow users use live.ly!

Active users

Do those user-overlap metrics mean that live.ly is cannibalizing YouNow’s users? Given that the decline of YouNow’s monthly active user numbers accelerated after the launch of live.ly, it’s certainly possible. live.ly has clearly taken over as the most popular live streaming app for teens in the U.S.

In spite of its relatively recent launch, live.ly already has more monthly active users on iOS smartphones than (former) U.S. market leader Periscope.

Just three months after its release, live.ly has almost 4.6 million monthly active users on iOS in the U.S., compared to Periscope’s 4.3 million monthly active users. (Like musical.ly, Periscope usage is far less on Android (vs. iOS) in the U.S.; 1.2 million MAU on Android in Periscope’s case.)

Engagement

live.ly also looks very good in terms of user engagement when compared against Periscope and YouNow on iOS; it’s used on about 7.3 days per month, which is 2.3x more days per month than YouNow, on average, and 1.9x more than Periscope.

Further, live.ly sees at least 50% more sessions per day and at least ~30% more time spent per day in the app vs. Periscope and YouNow (which seem to have similar engagement rates across the board).

Retention

In even better news, live.ly’s retention rate of 73.5%–which looked so unfavorable when compared to the retention rate of its parent app, musical.ly–looks positively smashing when pitted against the rates of Periscope and YouNow.

As you can see in the chart, live.ly’s user churn rate of 26.5% is approximately half the churn rate of Periscope (55.0%) and YouNow (49.5%) on iOS. Live.ly does a much better (2x better!) of retaining its users from week-to-week than other top live streaming apps do.

Revenue

While live.ly already boasts impressive usage and engagement rates relative to other live-streaming apps, it falls short on in-app purchase revenue: YouNow makes almost 15 times more per daily active user ($0.115) on average than live.ly does ($0.008).

That allows YouNow to make an average of around $17.6 thousand per day in the U.S., which is ~1.7x the amount of live.ly’s total daily revenue with about a tenth of the daily active users.

That’s quite a disparity. On the bright side, if live.ly learns from YouNow’s tactics during its current “process of experimenting” with monetization, then there appears to be plenty of upside revenue potential.

Conclusion

As live.ly approaches it’s 3.5 millionth download in the U.S., it’s clear that it will not live up to the lofty expectations on iOS set by its parent app, musical.ly (except perhaps in terms of revenue). However, according to these live streaming statistics, live.ly looks like a very strong performer among its app competitors in the U.S., having already overtaken (former) market leader Periscope on iOS.

That makes it the most popular standalone live streaming video app not just among its target demographic (teen girls), but among all smartphone users in the U.S. Given live.ly’s strong user-retention rates relative to other live-streaming apps, this situation isn’t likely to change any time soon among the existing competitors.

Based on the relatively poor performance of musical.ly and other live-streaming apps on Android, it’s now no surprise that live.ly launched on iOS well-before development on the Android version of the app had been completed.

And though live.ly currently underperforms on revenue (relative to both musical.ly and to other live-streaming apps), it has a clear opportunity to multiply its earnings by learning from best practices established by market incumbents and direct competitors like YouNow.

This post originally appeared on September 29, 2016 on the blog of SurveyMonkey Intelligence, a provider of competitive intelligence for the mobile app industry.

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