Live Entertainment Streaming in India 101

Summary: Present below is my deep-dive on live entertainment or lifestyle streaming scene in India from early 2021. It covers what makes a successful stream, landscape in China, contrast with Indian platforms and monetization strategies.
This is the 2nd blog in my live streaming deep-dive. Check out the last piece covering game streaming.

Bottom Line: What makes any Live successful?

what makes live streaming successful

Live Entertainment Streaming 🎶

live streamers china yy


  • Think radio but on web and video – Radio is also interactive and people still call on radio to participate. Same is with these livestreams.
  • Consists of non-gaming streaming, featuring entertainment through comedy, just chatting, content review, music, fitness, and more. The format can be either audio or video.
  • The focus now shifts from the game to the streamer, making engagement with people more challenging. A streamer's personality is crucial.
  • The most successful lifestyle streamers engage their fans and make them feel like they are active participants in an intimate community, rather than detached viewers.
  • To reduce the burden on the streamer’s personality, they engage the audience in other activities. This can include focusing on their talent (singing, dancing, etc.) or reviewing shows/movies, unboxing, and other activities.
  • Cooking shows employ a similar phenomenon as described above. By blending the host’s personality with the dish being prepared, a sense of anticipation is created, ultimately resulting in a rush of dopamine.

Live Streaming Platforms in India

top live stream platforms worldwide
  • YouTube and Facebook (not Instagram) are the most popular streaming platforms in India.
  • Streamers usually stick to one platform and don’t do cross-platform live streams.
  • Finding non-news live streams on YouTube can be difficult, while Facebook streams are random (in the Facebook live tab) and lack topical categorization.
  • Both platforms have introduced gamification features to encourage viewer engagement.
  • Mobile-first streaming apps like JL Stream, MX Takatak Live, and Bolo Indya are gaining popularity but often have poor (sleazy) content and focus on asking for money or followers.
  • Chinese apps like Bigo, Popular Live, and Tango were popular before June 2020 but were filled with inappropriate content and not focused on entertainment.

Chinese Live Streaming Platforms – Crazy Scale!

different platforms for streaming china
  • MAU livestreaming grew 31x from 5.6mn in 2012 to 176mn in 2017, with over 430mn viewers in 2019 (30% of China's population).
  • Revenue increased from 16mn USD to 4bn USD in the same period (250x).
  • Livestreaming relies on virtual goods, where viewers purchase digital items with real money to display on the stream.
  • YY is the biggest company in live streaming, earning 90% of its revenue from virtual gifts. Last year, it had $1.6B in live streaming revenue and $400mm in operating income from over 16mm users.
  • Viewers can purchase virtual gifts, digital items like roses, cars, yachts, and special effects to display on the stream using real money.
  • Viewers pay for virtual social status rather than to reward the streamer.
  • Post-2019, YY, Momo, TikTok, and Kuaishou dominate a 10bn+ USD market, with many other apps (1000+) shut down.
  • Watch: youtube video to learn more about birth of live streaming in china

Monetisation & Mechanics

  • Donations/virtual gifts are the most profitable, followed by subscriptions and ads.
  • However, Indian startups pay streamers based on a combination of likes and hours streamed. This has resulted in streamers without specific talent or skill coming online, where beauty and looks are a major selling point.
  • In China, the process involves three steps: Streamer → MCN (Talent agency) → Streaming platform (YouTube).
  • The same model is being followed in India with MX Takatak + JL Stream + BoloIndya. Leher also has a streaming platform and a mature audience (but very less chance an audio platform will suceed).
  • However, in China, streamers use state-of-the-art equipment and not just mobile devices.
  • Revenue is shared among the platform (50%), MCN (30%), and streamer (20%). Brutual working hours for streamers who do this professionally.

But why is entertainment live streaming popular?

  • Streaming for 3-4 hours creates a natural and authentic setting, allowing viewers to connect with the streamer as a person rather than just the activity they are doing (as often happens in games). Once viewers feel connected, they are more likely to return.
  • The longer the stream, the greater the engagement and views.
  • Interesting note on such parasocial relationships here which explores same themes as above.

Streaming on Youtube

lifestyle streamers youtube
  • Most streams are done from desktop using tools like zoom, OBS and multiple monitors.
  • Entertain the audience through storytelling or easy-to-tell content, such as reviewing other shows, rather than relying on your personality.
  • Further, engage with viewers through interactive streams, such as playing quizzes and giving prizes to winners.
  • It is difficult to find these streams on YouTube.
  • The typical age range of viewers is 18-30, and tips are generally lower than those for gamers, except for Tanmay.

Streaming on Facebook

facebook livestream data
  • Popular on Facebook, not on Instagram. Viewer and streamer age varies from 25-40. FB has wider & older distribution than YouTube.
  • Streams on Facebook are more diverse (content types) as compared to YouTube.
  • Mobile is the default choice for streamers on FB.
  • FB has invested heavily in their product, with viewers tagged as TopFan, Sharer, Gives Stars, Memberships and Winning Streak. Insta has a question feature but no tips.
  • Chats on FB are mature with no vulgar comments, unlike some Indian apps.
  • Finding streams is not easy on FB, but the platform notifies users when people they follow go live.

Questions To Ponder

  • Seems to me the weakest form of streaming (and thus the most difficult to win). What are the streamer earnings in this?
  • In China rural and tier 3-4 is big on live streaming as other sources of entertainment are missing. Is this true in India? Also, will these viewers be able to chat?
  • Is majority of Entertainment Live streaming in China still just sleaze? Same would happen in India then.
  • Optimist scenario – religious live streaming potentially can be big (if not already). Gamification and rich features can lead to high engagement.

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