Inke, one of China’s early entrants in the live streaming space, has launched a password-activated parental control feature to help limit screen-time for minors on its app. Once the feature is turned on, users will be prompted to input a password every time the app is opened.
The feature is designed to mitigate two specific forms of overindulgence by younger users on Inke: spending too much time and too much money (in the form of virtual gifts) on the platform.
Inke follows in the footsteps of Douyin and Kwai (Kuaishou) after the Cyberspace Administration of China issued a directive in March mandating short video platforms to launch “youth modes” to stem internet addiction among minors.
According to the China Internet Network Information Center, the number of users on short-form video platforms in China reached 648 million in December 2018, with younger people representing one of the main user groups.
Yet the parental control feature could act as a constraint on Inke’s growth at testing times for both the company and the live streaming industry more broadly.
Last year, Inke’s total sales dropped 2.1% year-on-year to RMB 3.9 billion (USD 575 million) last year, with live streaming revenue, which accounted for nearly 97% of the company’s total revenue, dipping 4.9% year-on-year.
And though Inke’s platform’s monthly active users grew 12.3% year-on-year to 25.5 million, this was still short of its peak of 30 million users at the end of 2016.
Meanwhile, Inke’s rivals have also shown signs of financial difficulty. Douyu’s IPO prospectus shows the company made a net loss of RMB 876.3 million and the company downsized its Shenzhen office by 70 people in December. Huya, a direct competitor to Douyu in the esports streaming space, recorded a net loss of RMB 1.9 billion in 2018, while the once-popular live streaming platform Panda TV went bust earlier this year.