Young social media stars in China are making loads of money by live streaming on their phones, according to ABC Australia.
China’s live streaming industry has gotten so big that the market is now valued at $11 billion — bigger than the country’s film industry. By comparison, Twitter’s live streaming platform Periscope claims only around 10 million users worldwide while the top five Chinese live stream apps have more than 85 million active users.
— China Film Insider (@china_film) July 26, 2016
Qi Ru, a 19-year-old student in China, has been able to capitalize on this trend and build a large following online through her live stream channel. She told ABC:
“Everybody feels they have some sort of talent but nowhere to express it. So it’s good to be able to use your smartphone to show your talent off and have everybody recognise you.”
The interesting thing is that most of these top streamers are not producing intricate content — they’re simply holding up their phones and talking to their viewers, often from the comforts of their own bedrooms.
When asked what she thinks of the allure that some of the top livestream stars may have, Qi thinks that looks play a huge role:
“Perhaps if your work is stressful, watching pretty women on your smartphone can let you relax a little bit.”
Tracey Xiang, a journalist based in Beijing says that viewer demographic is mostly men, which makes up of two-thirds of the market.
“The audience doesn’t care what sort of content is streamed, they just care that they are [watching] good looking ladies,” Xiang told ABC.
Li Dapeng is another livestreaming star with thousands of online followers. He has a day job selling audio equipment out of a warehouse in Beijing, but livestreams at night where he talks and sings to his fans. He says he livestreams because he wants to make new friends:
“The reason why I like live streaming is, there is an old saying in China: if you have an extra friend, you will have an extra path. If you have an extra enemy, you will have an extra mountain.”
Livestreamers in China make money by getting virtual gifts from their fans, which can be redeemed for real money — the platform then gets a cut of that. Some of the most popular stars earn up to $20,000 a month.
With the increased competition in recent months, the Chinese government started cracking down on streaming channels, shutting down those deemed too provocative or risqué. Back in May, it become illegal in China for cam girls to suggestively eat a banana.
Live streaming is not just a lucrative market in China. In Korea, young women can make up to $9,000 a month eating in front of a camera in a trend known as “gastronomic voyeurism”.