They used to earn millions of cash per year. They used to be the trending stars. Yet with the downfall of on-live platforms, many vloggers and live-streaming celebrities are now facing tougher challenges to survive.
However, they are not the ones to blame in landing on the hardship. The past year was rather catastrophic for the on-live platforms they dwell on as well.
In 2017, Chinese cyberspace authorities tightened up regulations on live platforms and their content. Consequently, the market started to lose interests to the saturating business as programs – succumbed to stringent ordinances – turn bland. It is reported that no major on-live platforms received any additional investment funding since May 2017. The loss of fresh capital injection leaves the on-live applications in a predicament: They desperately need innovative business models to bounce back from both an uphill competition and the regulatory repercussions, yet the spaces left for these platforms are extremely limited.
Instead of just embroiling in in-fighting, on-live applications are now being seriously challenged by their short-video application cousins such as Kwai(快手) and Tik Tok (also known as Douyin 抖音 in China), whose daily active users and stickiness are way higher than average on-live applications, thanks to their much more creative content repository.
Both Kwai and Tik Tok have on-live features designed for their premium vloggers and creators. For ordinary users, features on Tik Tok and Kwai are also more attractive.
And for less tech-savvy video creators, short video apps’ interest-based recommendation algorithms go a long way to helping them surface from a sea of other like-minded creators shooting and uploading a massive amount of almost similar clips vying for viewers. Unlike the traditional platforms, videos could go viral without any manual intervention. It does not require editors’ approval. It does not require the creators to be an influencer in the first place. As long as the contents fit the needs and selection criteria recognized by the algorithm. It could easily grab millions of views from platforms such as Kwai and Tik Tok.
To make things worse, on-live applications also face the risks of losing their premium creators.
The precious and limited pool of top-level vloggers has long been the battleground for various on-live platforms. And now those rising and usually heavily-funded platforms, such as Huoshan (火山), Kwai and Tik Tok, are also splashing money to draw on the same pool of vloggers to exclusively create contents for their platforms.
In this heated raid of top-level creators, on-live platforms have to raise their bait to lure away broadcasters, sometimes at the cost of millions of cash/year for top-notch broadcasters. Yet the devastating state regulations not only banned several prominent influencers, but also the prospects for many creators trying to survive in the business.
Fan–economy Remains the KEY
The issues that creators now face are quite straightforward. The fall of on-live platforms is denting their prospects. Their video clicks are no longer that high, causing them having lower income.
Yet moving into the trending platforms – such as Kwai and Tik Tok – may not be the optimum choice, for these vloggers who succeed by creating their unique contents and styles, the trending platforms’ algorithm-based content distribution methods are not friendly towards their rather unique contents. High-quality and specialized contents may not be favored by algorithms and thus receive poor performances in terms of video clicks and fans’ attention.
Inevitably, traditional video creators and broadcasters are not in the best spot. Their original platforms can no longer afford giving out the rewards that meet their expectations. They need to find a new path to maintain their incomes, yet joining a new platform is no longer the solution.
It seems that these creators are left behind in the rapidly growing industry, but for premium creators, they still have many to offer. Their fans and subscribers are ultimately the invaluable assets yet to be fully tapped.
The idea of fan-economy should be utilized. Creators should look beyond video clicks and revenue-sharing schemes from their producing platforms. Fans’ contributions, paid contents, or even merchandizes are all potential sources of income for premium creators. Unlike the vloggers on Kwai and Tik Tok, premium creators from traditional broadcasting applications demonstrate expertise in areas such as gaming, rapping, or stand-up comedies. Their expertise could continuously attract more fans to generate more attention and possibly more incomes.
For sure, traditional video creators are going to suffer in the short run. However, by investing into their own talents and their fans. They will become potential influencers that surpass their own original platforms.
Make it about YOU, not the Platform
Expertise and fans were the keys to success for top-level video creators. To adapt to the ever-changing trend. Creators should focus on developing their personal influences, rather than depending on their contributing platforms. For them, the path to success is quite similar to becoming a celebrity: Having a strong fan base, and show the world your expertise to attract more.
Celebrities never need to worry about whether their contents are welcomed on a given platform. For them, their fans, not video views, are the profit-making factor. Their personal influences matter more than their video account performances. For top-level video creators, perhaps it is the time to become a little more ambitious: There is no way to lay back and play safe, so why not becoming more influential in the areas they are best known for.
Chauncey Jung works with a unicorn Internet firm based out of Beijing. His professional experience pays him off an insider perspective over China’s internet industry. Completed his bachelor and master education in Canada, Chauncey is obsessed with trending technologies and economic developments across Asia. He can be reached at [email protected]
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