Live and let live-stream

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/10/25 18:28:39

With over 300 billion viewers, live streaming is now China’s most popular source of online entertainment

Live streaming has, in just the past couple of years, gained massive popularity among Chinese people, especially younger generations. According to iiMedia Research, the number of online streaming service users in China will reach 392 million by the end of 2017. Live-streaming broadcasts range from singing and dancing performances to following rich girls on shopping sprees. But this burgeoning market is also spawning more unusual (and far more interesting) types of live-streaming shows. The Global Times investigates.

A popular live streamer films herself dining at a newly opened restaurant in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province. Photos: VCG and courtesy of the interviewees

Popular Chinese live streamers selfie themselves.


Popular Chinese live streamers selfie themselves.


Going live in 5...4...3...2...1…


Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a term used for an experience characterized by a tingling sensation on one's skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine.

In China, Shaohan is one of the most popular streamers on's ASMR streaming channel, with 539,000 fans subscribing to her show. During her stream, Shaohan makes different sounds to stimulate ASMR in her audience.

She named herself "the streamer to lull you to sleep." "People lead a life of fast pace nowadays, feeling stressed from work or study. These people are targets of my streaming," Shaohan said.

A year ago, when Shaohan found herself in low spirits, she came across an ASMR recording that helped her find peace but also captured her interest to do the same for others. The more she learned, the more she wanted to become an ASMR streamer.

"I want my audience to get relaxed more in a mental way than a physical way," said Shaohan, who uses different materials and sound effects to imitate heart beats, waves and rain.

Shaohan said it is an essential part of ASMR to find new tools to imitate different sounds. "I am used to fiddling with whatever I see when I am walking outside or doing some shopping," Shaohan told the Global Times.

Apart from some basic equipment needed for streaming such as headphones and a Web camera, Shaohan also employs a special 3D microphone and corresponding sound card to bring out the best acoustical effects for her audience.

ASMR videos are in abundance online, however, it is quite a different experience for both the viewer and the performer to do it live. "When you record a video, you can imitate a whole scene with a specific theme without disturbances. But when you live-stream, you will be influenced by your audience," Shaohan said.

Shaohan said she adjusts her performance according to the preference of her audience. "Sometimes you cannot play a certain kind of sound because your audience does not like it."

Live streaming also means that Shaohan must pay attention to every single second. "It is exhausting to stay focused all the time to eliminate accidents that could cause a loud noise while streaming," Shaohan explained. "The key to being a good streamer lies in offering good company," she said.


The great outdoors

Shiyu, a 20-year-old female, has made a name for herself by streaming herself out in the wilderness (called huwai, outdoor streaming), catching water snakes, climbing up trees and searching for and cooking natural food.

Shiyu quit her job one month ago and returned to her hometown in Southwest China's Guizhou Province. After sharing on social media some photos and videos of herself frolicking in the great outdoors of her countryside home, she was contacted by a talent agent on Weibo to start live streaming. "I do many things that girls are afraid of," Shiyu laughed.

She said it is a virtue to be bold. "I am willing to endure all the difficulties. I am not afraid of being exposed to the burning sun or cold rain," Shiyu told the Global Times.

"I remember Shiyu diving into water when I watched her streaming for the first time. I think that she is hardworking as well as beautiful so I keep watching her streams every day," said user Cheng Pu, a 26-year-old who also grew up in China's countryside but currently works in a city. Thus, watching huwai streamers helps Cheng relive his fondest childhood memories.

Shiyu now works full time as an outdoor streamer, recording every day except during torrential rains (due to her electrical equipment). Shiyu said she loves her job, as it allows her to do what she enjoys most while earning considerable money.

"How much money I earn depends on myself, so I feel motivated to do more," she told the Global Times.


Talk shows

Before he took on the job of live streamer, Lige was an ordinary worker at a garage. Today, he has amassed a massive audience for his streaming talk show, which covers contemporary topics such as celebrity gossip or human interest stories.

"This kind of stream is the most difficult to do among all streams, because the streamer has to speak continuously, without pause, constantly introducing new, interesting topics. I have no time to rest during my streaming," Lige told the Global Times.

Different from normal TV talk shows, Lige does everything himself without a script writer, director or technicians. "I am a team of my own," Lige laughed. "It is a great challenge for me to respond to the audience questions immediately. I must improvise," he added.

It is also important for him to stay updated on all the latest news and trending topics. He also should be careful not to repeat himself or reuse old material. "Jokes and stories should never appear a second time," Lige said.

Though not professionally trained as a performer, Lige said he doesn't rely on any special skills to make himself popular. Instead, he said personal charisma is what wins long-standing support and love from the online community.

"I try my best to be a friend or brother to my audience and win their trust," Lige said.

His audience likewise tends to band together as a community, by discussing and debating in the stream's comments section the topics that Lige introduced. "They can speak freely while I am streaming. Sharing their own ideas with me and getting my response is what my audience enjoy most."

"Online streaming has brought me fortune and fame. I am really grateful to the Internet," Lige said.

This article was written by Chen Zeling.




blog comments powered by Disqus