Live Video Streaming — from Asia with Love
- Chinese live video streaming companies have now reached over $700bn in combined market value, led by ByteDance & Kuaishou.
- Asia-based companies such as ByteDance and Asia Innovations Group (“AIG”) are bringing best-in-class Eastern live video streaming practices to the West.
- AIG’s “live social” portfolio includes Uplive, the leading independent global live video streaming platform.
- We were among the first western investors in AIG, participated in their first round, Series A in 2014, and again led a late-stage expansion round in 2020.
In 2013, Youtube, Instagram and Snapchat all launched video sharing features that played an instrumental role in their rise to leading global social media platforms.
Many people are unaware that simultaneously, on the other side of the world, social platforms in Asia have already moved beyond video sharing to live video streaming where users are actively engaging with each via live video, not just passively watching pre-made video content. The earliest live video streaming platforms in Asia included Huya, Douyu and YY in China, Afreeca TV in Korea, and SHOWROOM by DeNA in Japan.
In subsequent years, a new generation of live video streaming players would come to dominate the Chinese market — Kuaishou, Little Red Book and Douyin (TikTok’s Chinese equivalent, which is also owned by ByteDance).
Today the aggregate value of the Chinese companies in the live video-streaming segment is over $700bn — including ByteDance, which by itself is the most valuable private company in the world with a rumoured $350–400bn valuation, and Kuaishou, listed this year in Hong Kong with current market cap of $120bn.
This is part of an ongoing trend where Chinese firms, long derided for being imitators of Western tech platforms, are now increasingly leading innovation — whether it’s with TikTok’s curation algorithm or the widespread success of social ecommerce.
Strong continued growth for the Live Video Streaming (“LVS”) segment
The increasing prevalence of smartphones has led to the widespread capability to create and share video content. Mobile video content has revolutionised social media — not only due to the richness of video as a medium compared to text and photos, but also because of the relative ease of creating and sharing this content, which has transformed levels of user engagement and platform virality. Live video streaming takes user interaction to another level, allowing users to interact directly via live video, not just text-based chats.
The Live Video Streaming market has grown rapidly in recent years, reaching an estimated $43.7bn in 2020A, and is projected to grow at 28.1% annually to reach $247.3bn by 2027E.¹
The Chinese LVS market has grown particularly rapidly to a size of $16.3bn in 2020², reaching over 560m viewers³, 62% of China’s online population.
A key factor in this success was driven by the distinct challenges that Chinese players faced with monetization. Responding to the high level of competition in the sector, live-streaming platforms offered free access to drive rapid adoption, but were then unable to convert consumers to paid subscriptions for services that they expected to be free. Combined with a lack of a developed internet advertising revenue model, this forced Chinese LVS players to find more innovative ways to monetise:
- Virtual gifts/Gamification: Historically 85% of streaming China’s livestreaming revenue stemmed from virtual gifting. Western platforms such as Twitch and Periscope are now emulating this model.
- Livestream ecommerce: Monetisation has been increasingly driven by the ability to sell promoted products shown during livestreams. During Alibaba’s 2020 Singles day alone, over 300m Taobao users watched livestreams, with over 30 channels generating more than $15m in GMV and nearly 500 channels reaching over $1.5m in GMV.
China’s livestreaming GMV is estimated at $179bn in 2020E and is expected to continue growing rapidly at 42.9% CAGR to $441bn in 2022E, accounting for 20% of China’s overall ecommerce market.
Western tech platforms are increasingly emulating these trends with Amazon, Instagram and YouTube all launching similar product offerings.
Asia Innovations Group — the leading global live social group
Back in 2014, White Star Capital was a strong believer in the future growth potential of the live social market, even when the livestreaming market was in its infancy, and we were excited by the Asia region as a whole.
This led us to participate in AIG’s first round, Series A in 2014, which was our first investment in Greater China and in Asia. We later went on to open offices in Tokyo (2018) and in Hong Kong (2019).
We were drawn by the hustle and tenacity of AIG’s two founders, Andy Tian and Ouyang Yun, two veterans of the China tech scene with previous leadership positions at Google China and Tencent. They had already been successful founders — Andy had co-founded XPD Media, which was acquired by Zynga in 2010, and Ouyang was a co-founder of GaoPeng (Groupon China).
AIG was founded to expand China’s innovations in mobile social to globally applicable products. AIG’s first platform, Uplive, took China’s live video streaming model to global markets starting with the Middle East and South-East Asia and eventually expanding to most international markets.
AIG further leveraged live video/voice from Uplive as a core interaction feature in other social apps such as dating, creating a portfolio of live social products that now serve more than 350 million users across the globe:
- Uplive, the largest independent video-centric live social app globally (excluding China)⁴
- Lamour, the most-downloaded dating-centric social app in main emerging markets and the world’s third most-downloaded dating-centric social app in the global market (excluding China)⁴
- SupreFans, China’s second-largest fan social platform in terms of monthly average users⁴
Future for AIG and the Live Video Streaming Segment
We believe there is significant growth potential for the global LVS segment, particularly with the rollout of 5G. As part of that global growth, White Star Capital participated in Asia Innovations Group’s new round of funding in 2020, and will continue to support AIG’s future growth in 2021.
In 2021, the live video sector has seen increasing activity and validation from the public market as well, with the successful recent Hong Kong IPO of Kuaishou, now valued at over $120bn, Bilibili’s secondary listing in Hong Kong, and the planned Hong Kong listing of Douyin, ByteDance’s China business.
We are excited to be participating in the evolution of the live social industry with Andy and his team as AIG continues to drive live social innovations from Asia to the global market.
About White Star Capital
White Star Capital is a global multi-stage technology investment platform that invests in exceptional entrepreneurs building ambitious, international businesses. Operating out of New York, London, Paris, Montreal, Toronto, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, our presence, perspective, and people enable us to partner closely with our Founders to help them scale internationally from Series A onwards.