73.4 % of Chinese Netizens Consider Live Streaming to be a Legitimate Profession

You may have heard of live streaming, but would you consider being a livestream host to be an actual career path?

Well in China it is.

On January 8th, MOMO, one of China’s largest live streaming platforms published the 2018 Live Streaming Profession Report. For the report they surveyed over 10,000 internet users to find out whether or not they consider live streaming to be a legitimate profession.

The result was a resounding yes, 73.4% of those surveyed responding that live streaming is a profession, and nearly 30% of users said that one of their friends or family members is a live streamer.

In addition to surveying the general public, MOMO also surveyed 5,000 full and part-time live streamers to learn more about the demographics, salaries, upsides and downsides of this new career path.

So what did they learn?

Women in Their 20s Dominate the Profession

For those familiar with the live streaming industry, it’s not overly surprising that the survey found that women in their 20s dominate the profession.

Out of the 5,000 broadcasters surveyed, 78.8% of them were female and 21.2% male. 68.4% were born after 1990 and 15.7% were born after 1995.

Among full-time streamers the male to female ratio was even more skewed at around 1:5 and 72.5% of them were born after 1990.

Streamers Earn Above Average Salaries

One of the reasons streaming has become so popular as a career in China is the potential to earn a high salary. The survey found that 21.0% of full-time broadcasters and 9.6% of part-time broadcasters earn over 10,000 RMB ($1,478) per month from streaming.

In China, that is amount is nothing to scoff at. According to a report issued by the Beijing city government in May 2018, the average salary in Beijing is 8,467 RMB, meaning that many live streamers are earning more than they could at a regular day job.

Education Level and Streamer Salaries are Directly Correlated

Overall, the full-time broadcasters surveyed had a relatively high education level, with nearly half (44.5%) of them having an associates degree or above.

The report also found that even when it comes to live streaming, education level has a dramatic impact on earnings.

36.6% of streamers with a masters degree or higher earned over 10,000 RMB per month, while only 26.6% of streamers with a bachelor’s degree and 16.1% of streamers with an associate’s degree were able to reach that earnings threshold.

This chart compares the percentage of streamers who earn over 10,000 RMB per month based on their education level. From left to right is Masters Degree and above, Bachelors Degree, Associates Degree, and high school diploma or lower. Source: MOMO 2018 Live Streaming Career Report

Every Profession has its Downsides

While there are many benefits to being a live streamer such as flexible working hours and the ability to work from home, there are also some downsides. As the China live streaming market has matured over the past couple of years, the competition between streamers has become fierce and high fan turnover and unstable incomes have become major sources of anxiety for China’s livestreamers.

To stay ahead, live streamers in China must take their jobs very seriously; about one-fifth of full-time hosts stream more than eight hours a day.

Because viewership peaks in the evening, livestreamers often work late at night. The survey found that 44.2% of hosts stream between 7pm and midnight, and as many as 12.2% of them frequently stream between midnight and 8am.

This chart shows the time periods during which broadcasters typically stream. The top line is “irregular hours”, the next is 7pm-midnight, 2pm-7pm, midnight — 8 am, 8am-12pm, and 12pm-2pm. Source: MOMO 2018 Live Streaming Career Report

The need for entertainment is higher during periods when the majority of the population is resting. 80.4% of all streamers surveyed reported that they stream on holidays, and for full-time streamers that percentage is even higher at 93.9%.

Streaming as a profession also impacts their physical and emotional state, with many of them reporting having sore throats from talking so much. And because they spent several hours a day entertaining and interacting with people online, many of them remarked that in their off hours they prefer to engage in more introverted and quiet activities.

Investing in Themselves and Their Career

As mentioned, as streaming’s popularity has risen, competition among hosts has intensified.

In order to hone their skills and further their careers, many streamers were found to re-invest a large portion of their earnings each month into developing their talents (for example taking singing or dancing classes), upgrading their equipment (microphones, lighting, props), or improving their appearance.

44.3% of full-time broadcasters spend over 1,000 RMB ($148) per month on self-improvement and a 8.5% of them spend more than 5,000 RMB ($740) per month.

This chart shows the amount of money that full-time live streamers typically spend each month on self-improvement. Source: MOMO 2018 Live Streaming Career Report

Live streaming has become ubiquitous in China, the way that Youtube has in the West. But that is not the only reason why Chinese netizens consider live streaming to be a legitimate profession. This report reveals the dedication and hard-work that many broadcasters put in, from streaming more than 8 hours a day and on holidays, to investing significant amounts in self-improvement. They treat live streaming like a job, and in turn, the public has come to respect what they do and take it seriously as well.

While the western live streaming industry is still in its early stages, it is developing quickly and there are signs that live streaming could become a career choice here too.