Chinese live-streaming apps that built their billion-dollar empires.
Companies including YY Inc (which has a US $ 6bil (RM24.22bil) -market capitalization) and Momo Inc (US $ 9bil / RM36.33bil) are adjusting their product offerings as educated women in China with higher incomes demand virtual entertainment that caters to their needs. The platforms are coming up with the content that caters to women – adding sections targeted to their interests in gaming, outdoor sports, anime, and ahem, good-looking men.
Live-streaming platforms in China, discovered by their fan base with men – there are 30 million more men in China. The early days of live-streaming sites mimicked a mashup of American Idol and online hostess clubs: a place awash with scantily clad women who sang and told jokes for virtual gifts.
With slowing growth and fierce competition, platforms like YY and Momo. The move coincides with the women in China's meteoric economic rise.
“Chinese women's self-awareness is growing fast, and we can not afford to pay attention to their needs and interests,” said Li Ting, YY's chief operating officer. “The so-called 'she economy' is a huge untapped market and often you'll see that women are even bigger spenders when it comes to culture and entertainment.”
Live-streaming is expected to nearly double from this year to 126.8 bil yuan (RM76.73bil) in China by 2022, according to a research report from internet consultant IResearch. YY and Momo both take about 60% of the cut of tips that live-streamers make.
“Women are definitely the next big market to tap,” said Zhu Yunhan, an analyst at New Street Research. “In the early days, the majority of viewers on these platforms were men, but as growth plateaus, they needed to think how they can dig into the spending power of women.”
Already, YY has lifted the revenue of women users by 10 percentage points to about 40% this year from when it started. On Momo, women account for only about 25% of users and men remain the main source of tipping. Yet the company is working to create services that will make the female users more open to using its platform including women-oriented gaming, cosmetics and fashion channels, according to Jia Wei, vice president of Momo and general manager of live-streaming.
Also, Momo has introduced privacy settings. “Momo is still a social platform that helps users build and discover new connections. We're not going to change our setup overnight, and we do place a lot of emphasis on protecting female users, “Jia said.
YY's revenue jumped 43% in the first quarter to US $ 518mil (RM2.08bil), while Momo (excluding its newly acquired business) rose 64% to US $ 435mil (RM1.75bil). JD.com estimates that women's spending power will reach 4.5tril yuan (RM2.72tril) in China by 2019.
Dong Yixuan, a 23-year-old woman who plays online games including League of Legends and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, says she will watch other live streamers, and has given broadcasters as much as US $ 300 (RM1,210) in a tip.
“I started to improve my gaming skills, and some really the funny ones,” Dong said. “The main reason I was given is because of the direct interaction with the broadcasters.”
In China, women can face discrimination based on physical attractiveness, with that often a factor . Some of the country's biggest Internet companies have notoriously placed an emphasis on hiring women with good looks. Even YY's Li, a woman, showcased some of that thinking. “When it comes to matters that require professional skill, men tend to be better at what they do,” she said.
While many of the sites are still plastered with videos of female live-streamers wearing seductive clothing, and a new phenomenon is on the rise in China. This is showing up in Chinese entertainment shows, everyday language and mating habits. Exhibit A: An increasing number of women who is referred to as “little puppies” or “little fresh meat”.
Both those tags are now popular search labels on YY and Momo. Some male users and broadcasters have chosen the labels as part of their usernames, and the topic is brought up during their live-streaming sessions.
Certainly, the use of sex appeal is not limited to the Chinese firms; Some of the biggest global social media companies, including Facebook, were involved in the development of women's attractiveness.
Instagram and Youtube celebrities are also known to leverage their sexual appeal to attract more viewers. Robin Hanson, co-author of The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life. “It's a reflection of peoples' mating preferences projected on technology platforms,” he said. – Bloomberg