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China’s Live-streaming Trend: Paving the Way for Increased Engagement

Mon, 07/24/2017

By Glenn Osaki , President, Asia, Shanghai, China, MSL and Liki Qin , Regional Senior Manager, Asia, MSL

2016 will be known as the dawn of the era of live-streaming in China, with over 325 million users — about half of the entire online population of China, according to the China Internet Network Information Center . As the most popular “new media” format in China, it has attracted attention from investors and marketers alike. A survey by AdMaster in December 2016 showed that 37% of marketers and media agency professionals in China intended to invest in hosts of live-streaming platforms as a key part of their 2017 content marketing strategy.

The roots of live-streaming in China began around 2010 when talent performances and chatrooms became accessible through your PC. But will rapidly advancing technology allow live-streaming to remain a viable new media format, or will it simply be replaced by another “fad”? Here are some considerations for the future of live-streaming:

Live-streaming throughout your life

From talent performances to video game broadcasting, live-streaming has primarily been used for entertainment. But a recent study by China News showed that beyond entertainment, consumers stated they were using live-streaming to:

  • relax (54%)
  • study (18.5%,)
  • socialize with others (12.9%)

As the platform evolves to provide these other life functions, its relevance to consumers will increase.

Live-streaming and commerce

Besides consumer relevance, the ability to commercialize live-streaming will also dictate its success. Credit Suisse estimated the live-streaming market at over $3.6 billion in 2016, growing to $5 billion in 2017. This is about 70% the size of China’s movie box office receipts (#2 globally to the U.S.) and half the size of the country’s massive mobile gaming market (#1 globally).

The live-streaming explosion is also boosting China’s enormous e-commerce sector, with store and brands rushing to tap in. Business intelligence firm L2 said about 80% of beauty brands were using livestreaming, mostly for e-commerce. China’s biggest online shopping sites, Alibaba’s Taobao and, have both launched their own live-streaming platforms – Taobao Live and JD Live. Shop owners and brands regularly hire popular live-streamers with large fan bases to build trust for their products because Chinese consumers have a strong distrust of e-commerce brands themselves.

Increasing engagement through advanced technologies

Augmented Reality has been widely used for interesting effects, immersive scenes and fan gifting to live-streamers. Virtual reality is also starting to be leveraged for major events, including the live-streaming of the National People’s Congress, so that all of China could virtually attend the conferences.

New technologies are on the way in 2017 to make live-streaming even more universal. In March, Google launched its video intelligence API, which allows users to search or discover information in video. Developers in China are already using this API with artificial intelligence and machine learning in live-streaming video content to optimize search and video personalization. Such enhancements will make live-streaming even more relevant, customizable and accessible – the keys to user engagement.

This article is a part of “ PR 2020 The Dawn of the Augmented Influence ” published by MSL’s People’s Insights team that covers the latest trends in engagement on both the consumer and corporate side.

Glenn is an experienced client counselor, Glenn has advised leading politicians, as well as CEOs and other leaders in some of the world’s largest companies, on critical issues related to communication, branding and marketing. A multiple warner-winner himself, Glenn is regularly asked to judge world-leading recognition programs. He is also a highly sought-after lecturer at universities in topics related to communications.

Liki specializes in corporate and brand communications and is responsible for enhancing MSL’s brand and reputation across all markets in Asia to strengthen the company’s leading position as a trusted partner to clients and a preferred employer to talents. She also supports the company to expand in new markets in Asia and strengthen the relationships with local partners to provide seamless high-quality advisories for clients.

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For more information contact Pascal Beucler , SVP & Chief Strategy Officer, Global, MSL and Melanie Joe , Consultant – Research & Insights, MSL

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