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HomeEventsSingapore's Live Streaming Ecosystem: Key Players and Platforms

Singapore’s Live Streaming Ecosystem: Key Players and Platforms


Given the recent advancements in technology and various trends in online behaviors, a case study looking into the live streaming industry in Singapore seems both academically and practically relevant. On one hand, the recent availability of high-speed internet connections, coupled with the prevalence of mobile devices and the recent success of various social media and video sharing platforms suggests that live streaming technology should be a highly feasible media distribution option. These differ vastly from the early-mid 2000s when online video streaming was commonly associated with poor video quality and constant buffering due to slow internet connections. On the other hand, the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of a large number of events globally. In light of this, many have turned to live streaming Singapore technology as an alternative means of media distribution. This sudden change in the business environment comes with a potential shift in industry trends and the perceived usefulness of live streaming Singapore technology.

Live streaming technology was first introduced in Singapore in 1996 when Media Corporation of Singapore (MediaCorp) conducted the first online broadcast of its National Day Parade. However, this was a time when the internet was still in its infancy and the technology was therefore still not completely feasible. It was not until the mid-2000s when the live streaming industry really began to take off with the media distribution of events such as the Singapore General Elections and the 2006 World Cup. Since then, live streaming technology has seen vast improvements and has become an increasingly more viable option for media distribution. This is especially so in recent times with the proliferation of social media platforms and numerous popular video hosting services. In recognition of these trends, YouTube Singapore organised the first YouTube Fan Fest in Asia in May 2013. The event was streamed to 7 countries in the Asia-Pacific and had gathered a total of more than 15,000 fans from all over the region. This is clearly a significant increase from the early days of online broadcasting in the late 1990s and indicates the growing potential of live streaming as a feasible media distribution option in Singapore.

Overview of the Live Streaming Industry in Singapore

In 2018, the live streaming industry in Singapore generated revenue of $40.1 million. Rapid developments in technology, higher internet coverage and speed, as well as the increasing acceptance of online platforms by youth were the driving force behind the burgeoning of livestreaming trends. This was a 30% increase from the previous year and has been projected to grow constantly till 2023. Live streaming can take place on various platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, but the influence of platforms like Twitch, Bigo Live, and Douyu TV are distinct in this industry. Live streaming is often harnessed as a form of communication, hence its high use in social media platforms to broadcast events and connect to audiences. However, platforms that are created for live streaming purposes are characteristically different. The culture and industry of these pure play live streaming platforms differ notably from the rest, as the monetization methods and incentives behind the streamers are unique to this industry.

Key Players in Singapore’s Live Streaming Ecosystem

The live streaming industry in Singapore is mainly dominated by two big players, StarHub and Singtel. They each have their own streaming services, StarHub Go and Singtel Cast, which operate on subscription-based and pay-per-view models. Having been in the traditional TV business for decades, it is safe to say that they have the expertise and content to take on the digital on-demand market. The platforms mainly rely on licensed content to attract viewers. However, with the rise of online piracy and cheap third-party subscriptions, services like Netflix and Hulu, they will have to adapt and innovate in order to keep up with the trends. Over the years, both companies have acknowledged the competition and shifted their focus on promoting content exclusive to their platforms and investing in local production. Another noteworthy platform would be HOOQ, a joint-venture company where Singtel is the major stakeholder. Although it is currently available in other Southeast Asian countries, it was first launched in Singapore as a means to fill the void for western content in the region. However, funds have been shifting towards Asian content due to the lack of demand for western content and the growing priority of capturing the Asian market. Being a relatively small and new company, it has been quite flexible in terms of trying out different business models and has the potential to grow.

Major Live Streaming Platforms in Singapore

We utilized the browsing for live streaming systems and located only two preferred platforms solely for stay flow content material in Singapore at some point of the time of this analysis. The first platform, Bigo Live, is a mobile app platform that permits users to watch stay proclaims and live flow broadcaster’s non-public/hobby activities. Bigo Live is advanced by way of a Singapore primarily based tech-company BIGO Technology whose discerning business enterprise is JOYY Inc. (formerly known as HUYA Inc.). This Singapore originated media-tech conglomerate specializes in imparting video-content relate products to the worldwide market. Over the latest years, BIGO Technology has efficiently surpassed through countries’ cyber regulations and proved their business sustainability to make bigger globally. Thus, being capable of purchase stakes and agreements with some governments to define a successful enterprise mission angle and beneficial rapport to the society. As a result, Bigo Live is enlisted as a certified web-based totally app platform below the IMDA. Another platform which targets a more distinctive and unique market is OMO Teppan. OMO Teppan is a web-based stay streaming platform that specialize in reviewing eatery or consuming locations live with simple recipe training and food education the use of teppanyaki grilling. This platform is best for aspiring or shisha-hire chefs who’ve a ardour to educate meal education and students who are keen to study in an interactive way. OMO Teppan even offers to hold pop-up stay streaming activities in eateries to useful resource the eatery in income conjunction with advertising and potential employment hiring for part-timers. Unfortunately, there had been no statistics located for this platform.

Local Content Creators and Influencers

“Increasing numbers of local content creators and influencers have also hopped onto the live streaming bandwagon, with various objectives in mind, such as promoting their main platform of content or utilizing it as an alternative channel to interact with their fans. Singapore Idol, a local singing competition, leveraged on Ustream to engage its audience with live webcasts of the auditions, showcasing behind-the-scenes action and discussions with the judges. Local music artists such as Inch Chua and The Sam Willows have used Google+ Hangouts as a platform to reach out to their fans, allowing them to engage in a live acoustic session with the artists themselves. Inch Chua also took it a step further by using Stageit, a platform for live-streamed concerts, giving her fans a more intimate setting with a pay-what-you-want approach, and on the flipside, giving her a chance to earn something extra while harboring stronger connections with her loyal fans. Hayley and Jayley Woo, local artists and twins, did a series of live broadcasts on Twitcam, partnering with omy.sg, to chat with their fans and even did a ‘dare’ session where fans can dare them into doing various activities. Local bloggers like Bong Qiu Qiu also did live broadcasts on the new live streaming app, Meerkat, using it as an informative platform to engage with her readers, broadcasting content such as a live review of a new mobile game sponsored by Singtel. Public figures such as NSP politician Nicole Seah also utilized live streaming as a channel to directly address the citizens on national issues or during the General Elections.”

Media Companies and Broadcasters

Several media companies and broadcasters are carving out a niche in live streaming. Millennials, many of whom have never subscribed to cable-based offerings, are fueling consumption. Mediacorp’s OTT service, Toggle, has put in place a wide-ranging content strategy that includes long-form and short-form video, as well as behind-the-scenes live stream from its TV productions. Mediacorp is also expanding its partnership with Bloomberg Media to sell advertising and sponsorship for Bloomberg TV’s global OTT service. Astro Malaysia, a leading pay-TV provider, has gone live with its coverage of horse racing and sports, while at the same time it has hit a deal to power Dooit’s live streaming platform. Yahoo, a global digital and mobile media company, is live streaming free and on-demand coverage of the National Football League (NFL) to its users. The two NFL games; Sunday Morning 1am (Singapore time) and Monday Night 8.30am, will be available on Yahoo’s platforms including Yahoo, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Fantasy, and Tumblr. Finally, Elead, an independent online media company, has launched a live streaming site and app with content ranging from talk shows, music performance, and e-sports.

Challenges and Opportunities in Singapore’s Live Streaming Ecosystem

Compliance with either traditional medium service regulation or new medium service codes will require a respective burdensome onus in terms of resources and financial capabilities for content providers. Failure to comply will have severe consequences on the content provider.

For a new medium service, the MDA will ensure that the content providers do not undermine community or national interests. An industry code will be implemented to ensure the providers’ accountability for what is put up and to facilitate effective self-classification of their content. This will help to give the MDA oversight of the internet services without such services being subject to traditional licensing requirements. Services that are deemed to have breached the code or, in severe cases, undermined community or national interests, can still be subjected to fines and take-down orders.

One of the key concerns of the MDA is to determine if a service should be classified as a traditional medium service or a new medium service and the possible effects it might have on the community at large. If it is classified as a traditional medium service, the MDA has the power to regulate through licensing, fines, take-down orders, and even blocking access to online content. Failure to comply with the MDA’s standards and conditions could result in a service being suspended or revoked.

Regulatory landscape and compliance play a key role in the decision-making process for streaming platform providers. Being a relatively new industry in Singapore, live streaming is still in its infancy and has yet to be regulated. However, the Media Development Authority (MDA) has mentioned that they are looking into the matter.

Regulatory Landscape and Compliance

Moreover, with the increase in OTT services offered in Singapore, the authority now also requires providers to register their services, which includes providing a list of channels and/or programs that are on offer, as well as contributing towards the promotion and production of local media. This is in consideration of the influence that video streaming services have over traditional television broadcast, and the MDA still sees media as an important tool in shaping national identity, national consciousness, and values. A provider of video streaming services may be subject to up to $50,000 in fines should they be in breach of any of the MDA regulations. This heavy regulation on the media industry could be problematic for new entrants or smaller firms, given that the demand and supply of online content have a high price elasticity and the conditions to provide such content are price inelastic. The high cost of providing content could affect the viability or profitability for a provider.

While the Singaporean government has been supportive of the M&E industry, as seen in considerable funding towards digital content, the media and video streaming industry faces regulation under the Media Development Authority (MDA) Act. The MDA updated its Media Market Conduct code in 2015 to include Over-The-Top (OTT) services, which the authority described as a form of video or TV content provision over the internet. This is to ensure that providers of such services adhere to a set of industry guidelines and, in consideration of profanity and adult content, are responsible for providing age-restricted access. This was because children are accessing such media on their mobile devices more today, and the MDA was concerned about the influence of such content on young, internet-savvy users.

Monetization and Revenue Models

Sponsored content, affiliate marketing, and merchandise sales are other revenue channels that can be relevant to both professional and variety streamers.

Tipping is a major part of most live stream revenue, and the personality cult phenomenon surrounding some streamers has resulted in some viewers donating very large sums of money. Many platforms also allow direct purchasing of virtual gifts which have a similar function to tips. Viewers send these to the streamer, often in a chatroom environment, in order to gain attention or recognition. Each virtual gift has a fixed monetary value and may earn the sender a form of recognition such as a chat badge or emote. For example, ‘cheers’ on Twitch.tv is a virtual good that can be valued at up to $25.

In contrast, variety live streamers have a much higher reliance on the native monetization tools provided by platforms. Most live streaming platforms operate some form of digital tipping, which sees viewers purchase a virtual currency that can be ‘tipped’ to content creators. The content creator can then cash these tokens out for a sum of money determined by the platform, typically in the range of $0.01 USD per token. Tipping is usually realized as a small overlay or animation on the stream and is accompanied by a message and an audible alert. Size, color, and screen placement of tip alerts can all be customized by the creator.

Monetization and revenue models differ markedly in significance and feasibility, depending on the type of content creator. For professional esports players or teams, revenue generation often happens through sponsorships, branded content, or team-based subscription models where fans pay a fee for access to premium content. Advertising can be prevalent in certain gaming communities, but often the CPM rates for endemic game adverts or the low quality of the generic advertising that gaming audiences receive is low.

Emerging Trends and Future Outlook

Another trend is live mobile game streaming, which has witnessed an increase of interest in recent years due to e-Sports. As foolish as it may seem, professional gamers are awarded large salaries to play games and are recognized as athletes. Now even music artists have taken interest in this, such as Jeryl Yeo (郭文心) playing the mobile game “Arena of Valor,” presumably to generate a new source of income due to the current situation where he is likely unable to perform or hold concerts. E-Sports has also led music artists to take interest in creating game music covers and the songs to be used in the game itself. This will provide a new era of music promotion via games. With services like Twitch primarily focused on PC and game console gaming, Singapore-based live streaming platforms and major overseas players such as YouTube and Facebook are also showing interest in this and might even host professional e-sports broadcasting in the near future. This will be a major challenge to Twitch, but the real winners are these artists and game companies who can now explore a new source of music career. Twitch or any e-sports related music learning artists can take advantage and host live songwriting and composing sessions with viewers to request the making of BGM/BGM song covers. This is somewhat similar to Nico Nico Douga’s Utattemita.

There is huge potential in the Singaporean live streaming market, and in order for the industry to take advantage of this, it is necessary to move in the correct direction. In the past, compared to today, the use of censorship, including mistakes and live show complaints (commenting, I Am A Singer), has been avoided by BandLab, which allows musicians to stream easily without fear of being taken down due to the lack of copyright. This is a good start for BandLab and other platforms who wish to be successful in the music live streaming industry. Other platforms can also avoid mistakes made by previous pioneers, such as how Hype Records were too early to the market and were ahead of the technology curve during pre-YouTube days in 2007. On the other hand, Hype Records can still make a comeback, especially with YouTube’s new label and pre-recorded concert live streaming technology.

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