Summary of China’s Live-Streaming Industry and Dreams of Stardom

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China’s live-streaming entertainment industry was growing at an exponential rate. In no other region has live-streaming been as popular. The unique live-streaming economy, built on virtual gifts that fans buy for the online celebrities they dote on, has been a highly lucrative industry in recent years. In the West, Internet celebrities tend to their Instagram presence and publish edited videos; in China, more and more Internet users join the live-streaming bandwagon. Nonetheless, since the government started regulating the industry, it is maturing and providers are looking for opportunities to make the fun last. Liu Qiuyan, a journalist at news media company Jiemian, explains how live-streaming platforms try to transform online celebrities into more traditional superstars by borrowing business models from the entertainment industry. getAbstract recommends this article to those interested in global Internet trends and to investors with an eye on China’s increasingly profitable entertainment industry. 

About the Author

Liu Qiuyan is a reporter at, a Chinese news media start-up that reports on tech and business news for independent thinkers.



China’s live-streaming video business was a highly coveted cash cow in 2015. In 2017, it began plateauing, even declining. “China’s Live-stream Industry Trend Report,” which Penguin Intelligence published in 2017, found that live-streaming viewers’ average online time dropped from 203 minutes per month in 2016 to 182 minutes per month in 2017. China’s Internet Network Information Center found that the number of live-stream users fell significantly in 2017 compared with 2016.

An online celebrity’s fame lasts only about a year on average. With the future of the industry in question, platforms are using live-streaming singing contests, TV shows and promotional events in an effort to open up new revenue channels and to rebrand their domain-specific celebrities into traditional superstars in the entertainment industry.

Companies also place their celebrities into offline competitions and events to win them more exposure and to create more opportunities to get monetary contributions from fans. Online celebrities...