Live streaming was already booming before COVID-19 hit. It exploded into an even bigger industry as most people worldwide saw the need to hunker in at home and find entertainment and work options through the internet.
A Market Research Future report projects that the live streaming market will be valued at US$247.3 billion by 2027. This expansion is attributed to the rise of various social media platforms and the growing interest and involvement of content producers and consumers worldwide.
Content monetisation has become a highly enticing opportunity for many that even celebrities have already set up monetised social media and live streaming accounts. A separate study by Fortune Business Insights has even more optimistic numbers.
It estimates the total value of the video streaming market to be worth US$842.93 billion by 2027, the biggest portion of which is live streaming.
“The streaming type segment is categorised into live and on-demand streaming. Among these, live streaming holds the largest market share, whereas, on-demand streaming is expected to show the highest CAGR in the coming years,” the report writes.
More than serving individual online video consumers
Live streaming at present has evolved from being aimed at individual online video consumers to providing live video services for enterprises. Many live streaming companies now serve as platforms for businesses to take advantage of live online videos for marketing, product selling, training, and other purposes.
Singaporean startup BeLive, for example, is offering live streaming services to help companies with their marketing, presentation, and training activities.
It provides a comprehensive platform with various tools for businesses to harness the power of live streaming to connect with customers or better engage employees and clients. BeLive has raised a total of S$3 million (US$2.2 million) in funding, and the 50-strong company has offices in Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, and Shenzhen.
The pandemic has forced most businesses to go online. This rush towards digitalising business processes has inevitably resulted in stiffer competition. Businesses cannot afford to be passive lest they allow potential customers to go to competitors that invest in aggressive promotions and customer engagement activities.
The viability of the Asian market
Asia appears to be one of the best markets for companies that offer live streaming solutions. With its growing middle-class and relatively tech-savvy young population, businesses that plan to include live streaming in their revamped business models have a sizeable number of potential consumers and business clients to target.
Infoholic Research LLP’s “Asian Live Stream Market: Drivers, Restraints, Opportunities, Trends, and Forecasts, 2017–2023” report estimates that the Asian live stream market revenues will hit US$71.7 billion by 2023. It also projects the market to grow at a CAGR of 46.4 per cent within the 2017-2023 forecast period.
“Growth rate of the Asian Live Stream Market is more than that of the global average and the region is improving its infrastructure capabilities such as high-speed internet, the internet and smartphone penetration rates, to build the technology infrastructure and thereby attract investments in several other sectors as well,” the report writes.
Companies launching their own live-streaming platforms
BeLive has powered more than 54 million streaming hours to date. Its business model is an excellent demonstration of the live streaming market opportunities in Asia, particularly its existing ties with a number of major Asian corporations. Being the leading live streaming platform provider in Asia, it offers a glimpse of the current and future Asian live streaming business landscape.
Japan’s Rakuten Live, one of BeLive’s top clients, serves a user base of more than 100 million. BeLive powers Rakuten’s live streaming service that enables companies and merchants to engage customers through social media influencers and product endorsements. It also incorporated an e-commerce feature that allows viewers to buy products while watching live streams.
BeLive CEO Kenneth Tan says that the streaming service allows companies to boost their existing business while providing the opportunity to expand into a new venture just like what Rakuten did with Rakuten Live. Rakuten’s main business is e-commerce.
Tan believes that his company offers a compelling proposition with its economic benefits for businesses that white-label the platform. “They could test their ideas in the market at a lower cost and at a much quicker pace if they adopted our technology,” Tan explains.
Companies that are remotely related to video streaming can explore opportunities from the booming live streaming market by using technologies or platforms supplied by another company.
Along with the pandemic came the explosion of live online selling. Since most establishments have been restricted from conducting face-to-face business with their customers, many turned to the internet to sell their products through live video streaming.
However, it is not only small businesses that are powering the growing popularity of live online selling. Larger enterprises, too, have found ways to use live videos to reach out to prospective customers. This is particularly big in China, where companies hire social media celebrities as well as ordinary salespeople to promote products through live video streams.
Alibaba’s Taobao Live is regarded as the biggest live selling player in China and the rest of Asia, cornering around 80 per cent of the Chinese market. Its rapid growth amid the pandemic is an indicator of how live selling has risen to undeniable relevance in the Asian market.
It can be said that its success sparked counterpart services from Baidu and JD.com, which have partnered with Douyin and Kuaishou to livestream online programmes through which consumers can also shop.
Live online selling is not just some alternative for businesses to get by during the lockdowns. It also has palpable benefits. Tan points out how their clients “have seen an average of 20 per cent add-to-cart rate” by selling through live video streaming.
He also highlights its advantage of engaging customers, saying that “70 per cent of viewers who join a live stream (leave a) comment, and 40 per cent of them ask product-related questions.”
Train or engage employees and partners
Another way live streaming benefits businesses is by boosting engagement with employees and business partners. With remote work becoming part of the new normal across Asia, companies would have to get used to doing training, brainstorming, meetings, and other business activities online. Not all companies are equipped for this kind of setup, though.
“We’re being forced into the world’s largest work-from-home experiment and, so far, it hasn’t been easy for a lot of organisations to implement,” says Gartner Senior Director Saikat Chatterjee.
In a snap poll at a webinar for HR chiefs conducted by Gartner, 91 per cent said that they have already implemented remote work arrangements since the start of the pandemic, but the HR heads reported that their biggest challenge has been the lack of infrastructure and difficulties in adapting to the new ways of doing work.
Companies welcome the availability of third-party solutions to augment their inadequacies in terms of technology and expertise. There’s a reason why tech giants like Samsung rely on smaller companies for specific needs in their operations.
While the general consensus is that online learning cannot replace traditional face-to-face schooling, there are many opportunities in the need for reliable platforms to facilitate online classes.
As early as February 2022, the city of Wuhan in China showed the opportunities for companies to move to education verticals, as more than 900,000 students shifted to online learning. The city did not have enough online education platforms to support the sudden explosion in the need for online classes. As such, live-streaming and short video services have redirected their resources to address remote learning requirements.
In a Global Times interview, independent industry analyst Liu Dingding said that “it is necessary for these internet platforms to enter the educational sector at present because they are good at providing broadband services with large servers … while traditional education services can provide good quality education.”
Many Asian cultures are known for their high regard for formal education. It will not be difficult to convince governments as well as families to spend on online learning platforms and tools to ensure organised learning.
Live video streaming has come a long way. Online videos are no longer just options for entertainment and simple online conferences. The Asian market shows how innovative companies can create new niches and find profitability in novel business models. Any company can have its own profitable live streaming platform using third-party technology.
With some ingenuity, businesses can find other ways to monetise relatively commonplace activities. Also, live streaming is a viable product that businesses can offer to other businesses.
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