Guide to Live Streaming in China – 2022

As brands increasingly look to China for new opportunities to grow their businesses, live streaming provides a unique way to connect with Chinese customers in a very personal and engaging way. 

There’s no doubt that the live streaming industry is on the rise. And businesses of all sizes are starting to take advantage of this powerful communication tool. But what, exactly, is a live stream? And how can your business use live streams to its advantage? Is it already a part of Chinese internet culture?

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In this guide, we’ll provide an overview of the live streaming industry in China and offer some tips on how brands can use this powerful marketing tool to reach Chinese consumers.

Commerce Live Streaming Industry in China – what does it look like with Numbers

In recent China, commerce live streaming media are gaining great popularity among both the youth and the aged. As of 2021, the population of live streaming services has exceeded 464 million, which makes up almost 45% of Chinese netizens. Data shows, that at the end of 2021, 930 million people in China watched short videos and 700 million people watched live broadcasts, accounting for 68.2% of the total Chinese audience. 

Live streaming e-commerce generated 460 million users, which makes 44.9% of the total number of Chinese netizens. The overall number increased by 75.79 million compared with December 2020, bringing an annual growth of 19.5%.

The online live-streaming market size in China

Tipping while watching live streaming content is a common practice among young people in China. In the light of market research published on Statista, the market size of the online live streaming industry in China reached around 34 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 and is expected to grow up to 72 billion U.S. dollars by the end of 2023.

Live streaming content types that work on Chinese social media platforms

Even though the platforms and content details are different, live streams in China can be classified into the following main types:

  • E-commerce live streams;
  • Video game live streams;
  • Reality live streams;
  • Sports live streams;
  • Live concert live streams

From the perspective of content categories, Chinese e-commerce live streaming is booming. Although the user scale of traditional live streams such as reality show live streams and game live streams has slowed down.

The rise of Chinese e-commerce live streaming platforms has injected new vitality into the overall growth of the market in China, enriching the content and monetization methods of the live-streaming industry.

The most popular content categories on all the platforms are:

  • fashion
  • food
  • culture
  • apps
  • games
  • education
  • foreign products
  • beauty products
  • daily necessities and so on. 

Some live stream media channels are slickly produced, surrounded by products and brands, guests, frenetic bells, whistles, and countdowns creating a sense of urgency among viewers to splash the cash. The most successful hosts have tens of millions of loyal viewers watching their streams and boosting brand sales. 

When customers click the link on the product website or on the platforms, they can browse pictures, watch brand try-on videos, or catch fashion live streams, so they now have more ways to interact with brands and are engaged for longer periods of time.

Chinese tech giants put the finger on the live-streaming hosts’ shares

Since live streaming e-commerce has brought great fortune, China’s giant e-commerce platforms such as Alibaba, JD.com, and Pinduoduo have stepped into this field one after another, integrating physical commodity transactions with interactive live streams, enhancing viewers’ consumption experience and entertainment. 

In addition, e-commerce live streaming hosts play an important role in stimulating the demand and sales of agricultural products and provided strong support for poverty-stricken areas to get rid of poverty.

In July 2019, Zhejiang Province and Alibaba Group organized the “E-commerce Poverty Alleviation” activity. 12 cadres along with KOLs jointly promoted the hometown’s agricultural specialties. The total sales of this campaign have exceeded 10 million yuan in only three hours.

Top 7 live-streaming platforms in China

There are many different live stream contents, but the differences between certain commerce live streaming platforms are getting smaller and smaller. Here is a list of the top 7 commerce live streaming platforms in China, that gather hundreds of millions of viewers every day. 

1. Douyu.com, Tencent live-streaming Champion?

Live streaming china - douyu
Douyu live-streaming platform

DouYu, literally translated into “Fighting Fish”, is a live-stream site centered around video gaming developed by DouYu TV and launched in 2014. DouYu, is the largest game-streaming platform in China, with 61.9 million monthly active users in 2021. Douyu generates a huge amount of live streaming sessions among young people every day. 

In 2018 the advertisement on Douyu generated $73 million in revenue. The Chinese tech giant Tencent owns about 37% of the shares. In March 2019, Panda TV, which was once a big rival for Douyu, announced bankruptcy and liquidation. The Chinese live stream market began to form an era dominated by well-known platforms like Douyu and Huya.

Panda TV out-of-service page

For a long time, the two major live-streaming platforms – Douyu and Huya have been constantly competing for the position of the “first game live-streaming platform”. However, even though Huya Live was the first to go public, its development speed is not as fast as Douyu and now Douyu has surpassed Huya, occupying third place.

According to research, Douyu is significantly better than other platforms in terms of active users and live streamers, and it also has numerous loyal fans that other platforms do not have.

2. Huya Live Stream

Huya is a Chinese live streaming platform that was founded in 2014. The platform allows users to watch and stream live gaming content, similar to what we now start having on Youtube. Huya has seen explosive growth in recent years and now has over 300 million monthly active users. The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2018 and is now valued at over $20 billion. 

Apart from live streaming services, Huya also offers a range of other gaming-related services, including e-sports tournaments where you can watch the most popular live streamers play games. The company is headquartered in Shanghai and has offices in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou.

3. Kuaishou Video (The dark horse live streamers)

Kuaishou Video, literally “quick hand” in English, is a Chinese video-sharing mobile app, first launched in 2011 and developed by Beijing Kuaishou Technology Co., Ltd. Kuaishou has a  strong user base among users outside of China’s Tier 1 cities. Kuaishou emerged as a direct competitor for Douyin, which targets people outside of Tier 1 cities. They promote all the main topics that young people are interested in, like fashion, leisure time, shopping, food, apps, education, foreign brands, and so on. 

In December 2021, KuaiShou reported 578 million monthly active users and had more than 1.5 billion pieces of original content on the platform.

It is an app not only popular in Mainland China, but it has also gained considerable popularity in overseas markets, topping the Google Play and Apple App Store’s “Most Downloaded” apps lists in eight countries.

The main competitor of Kuaishou is Douyin, which is known as TikTok outside of China. Kuaishou has a high consumer retention rate and Kuaishou’s e-commerce marketing is of great value and has been recognized by various industries in 2019.

4. Inke Live Streamers Platform

Inke is the world’s leading live streaming site for artists and creators. With Inke, you can easily create and live stream your artwork to a global audience and talk with fans in real-time. Inke also offers a variety of features to help you showcase your work, including HD quality streaming, high-definition image capture, and social media integration. 

What makes Inke brand stand out is its ‘battle mode,’ where users will agree on a predefined challenge, for example holding up one pen between your teeth or balancing an entire spoon on top of your nose. They also live stream these battles within certain time limits and viewers can send cash payments for gifts so that it’s easier than ever before to determine who wins! And receiving virtual gifts seems like fun, isn’t it?

5. Douyin (TikTok) the China king of live-streaming?

Douyin (TikTok, as it is known in other countries) is in essence a short video-sharing social media platform. It is owned by ByteDance, one of the Chinese leading tech giants. 

chinese social media - short video live streaming app douyin
Douyin website landing page

In September 2021 TikTok, excluding Douyin, reported 1 billion monthly active users worldwide and as of December 2021, Douyin (in China) reported around 670 million monthly active users.

Douyin is a clear leader in the commerce live streaming app market, with advanced live stream functions and algorithms to cater precisely to the different interests of users, that can just focus on watching their favorite live streaming host or brand or shop for daily necessities, boosting platforms’ overall sales.

6. Xiaohongshu / Little Red Book – shop with celebrities!

Xiaohongshu interface

Xiaohongshu began testing the live streaming e-commerce service in 2019. In a series of live streams since it was introduced, several successful results have emerged: they offer a high conversion rate and high expenditure for customers even at relatively low sales volumes. 

Popular live-streamers are backed by professional marketing teams and can earn tens of thousands of dollars each day in direct donations from fans. The most sought-after live-streaming hosts (for example well-known celebrities) can earn a lot of money in brand endorsements and sponsorships.

Livestreaming on Xiaohongshu social media platform allows users to interact with their followers in real-time, and many live streamers use the platform to sell products or send virtual gifts, for example during luxury fashion livestreaming.

For example, live streaming hosts might show off a new dress and then provide a link to a shop where their followers can buy it. In addition to selling products, Xiaohongshu live streamers also offer advice and tips on beauty and fashion. As a result, this e-commerce platform has become an important destination for Chinese women who are looking for information on fashion trends and products before shopping. 

Currently, a live streaming channel, KOL (Key Opinion Leaders), has around 7500 followers spending money and generating about RMB 10,000 in sales. Xiaohongshu is a more robust social media platform than other Chinese live-streamer e-commerce platforms such as Taobao. The live streaming service by Xiaohongshu is no longer just an internet-based e-commerce shopping service like Taobao.

7. Taobao Live

Taobao Live is a live streaming service owned by Alibaba Group. It was launched in 2016. The platform lets live stream videos of themselves to an audience, who can buy products that are on stream in real-time. According to Alibaba, Taobao Live accumulated more than 50 billion viewers. 

The service is popular in China, where it is used by celebrities, influencers, and brands to sell products directly to fans and consumers. In 2021, the average viewing time of Taobao live broadcasts increased by 25.8%. The top 10% of broadcasters generated 90% of the total sales on the platform. 

Taobao Live has also been expanding outside of China. In 2019, it launched in Indonesia and Malaysia. The company plans to broadcast to other countries in Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Maybe later on they will access the Western audience as well. 

Conclusion on China Live Streaming Market :

Since 2020, the industry has had great opportunities for development, especially during COVID-19. According to data released by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), as of the end of 2021, the number of viewers in the country has reached 703.4 million, an increase of 163 million from the end of 2018, accounting for 68.2% of the total number of Internet users.

Chinese e-commerce live streaming becomes a new place for brands to communicate with the Chinese public and promote their products to a home shopping network. When brands plan to launch live broadcast campaigns in China, the first step is to choose the platform that has the features and live stream advantages you are looking for. 

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4 Comments

  1. As Chinese citizens were invited to stay at home during the Chinese Lunar New Year, a large number of cosmetic enthusiasts had to rely on online shopping activities and KOLs (Livestreaming KOL) to stay well informed during the purchase of care and make-up products.

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