While video consumption has been reported normalizing after the peaks touched during the global 2020 COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, social media platforms have already started capitalizing on live streaming becoming a more familiar format for users. According to research conducted on behalf of the popular social video platform TikTok, over 52 percent of global users would be interested in consuming live branded content.
Shoppable social live streamingOnline live e-commerce was pioneered in China by tech company Alibaba and has since reached new heights under short-video app Douyin. Live video streaming made a first breakthrough outside the Asia-Pacific market in 2020 and 2021. However, social media platforms were only signaled by three percent of global respondents as the channels delivering the best experience when used for online purchases in April 2022. While at the beginning of 2022 Meta’s Facebook and Instagram were reported to be the main social media used for live streaming purchases, Facebook shut down its live shopping feature in October 2022. YouTube, which announced more shopping features and a partnership with Shopify in July 2022, partnered with eligible leading creators and brands in November 2022 to allow “shoppable content” before the Christmas shopping frenzy. Similarly - as 72 percent of global TikTok users interested in branded content would also be interested in product sales- TikTok announced in October 2022 that the platform would make live shopping available in the United States.
Social live streaming in the U.SAccording to the third quarter of 2021, keeping in touch with friends and family was the leading reason for users worldwide to engage with social media, while only 24 percent of respondents reported using social media to watch livestreamed videos. As of the second quarter of 2022, the audience of video live streaming had experienced a small decrease compared to the third quarter of 2021, reaching approximately 29.5 percent of the global digital population. As of the second quarter of 2022, live streaming was more popular than tutorials and educational videos online, while music videos and memes, or other types of viral videos were still the most engaging types of videos consumed online.
While gaming appeared to be the most popular content category for global users, the diversification in live content that can be found browsing social media and video platforms is a sign of the evolution of the format. At the end of 2021, Just Chatting live streams became the most popular type of content on Twitch and generated approximately 3.1 billion hours watched by global users, surpassing gaming and eSports categories on the platform. For users in the United States, breaking news was the leading type of live-streamed content consumed online, while comedies and videos by friends and family were reported to be watched by around 30 percent of respondents as of April 2021. YouTube Live and Instagram had a higher usage among live online viewers aged between 18 and 34 years, while users aged between 35 and 54 years preferred Facebook Live.
eSports and gamingThe growth of the eSports market has been linked to live streaming platforms’ success, with more and more viewers joining in to follow gaming conventions, global competitions, and top gamers. In 2021, there were approximately 261 million eSports enthusiasts worldwide, as well as 271 million occasional viewers. In the same year, the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) registered over three million peak concurrent viewers across YouTube and Twitch, while the Nintendo Direct convention registered a peak of 2.9 million concurrent viewers.
Live streaming has been synonymous with watching gamers playing, but the combo of video games and in real-time online broadcast allows more than passive viewing. One of the key features of live streaming platforms is the possibility for users to interact directly with the streamers by sending messages and asking questions, thus creating a social dimension. The number of Twitch’s concurrent viewers peaked during the second quarter of 2021, with over three million users – before starting to experience a small decline. In the third quarter of 2022, the platform counted around 2.6 million concurrent viewers, more than doubling its audience since the third quarter of 2018.