From fun to commercialFirst appearing in China’s online scene in 2003, live streaming has seen several industry shifts, with new players and disruptors reshaping the landscape. Live entertainment shows were the early winners until 2014, when the popularity of game streaming and eSports took over. In 2016, the Chinese tech major Alibaba introduced live streaming e-commerce which soon became the sector’s powerhouse. Currently, the live streaming industry constitutes of three main segments – e-commerce, entertainment, and gaming.
A power shuffle in live commerceLive commerce is a lucrative market with an estimated market size at five trillion yuan and over 500 million audience. Half the mobile shoppers in China tuned in live selling videos for shopping advice and deals. For many years, the country’s largest e-commerce site Taobao was the frontrunner in the arena but its reliance on several scandalized A-list live streamers took its toll.
In 2022, short video apps Douyin and Kuaishou overtook the long-time champion in transaction value. The large young and urban userbase of Douyin has given it an upper hand to secure its market dominance, whereas Kuaishou’s loyal lower-tier users and community culture have been the foundation for its robust growth.