Live Streaming 2016

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In 2015, league of legend Esport community reports that Total cumulative daily unique impressions (the amount of unique viewers that tuned in every day via online and television channels) reached 334 million over the four weeks. (from 288 million in 2014). [1] Together with Esport, live streaming has become more and more popular. Twitch has become the “monopoly” streaming platform in gaming content in north america since it was launched. Twitch’s main competitor Youtube live has a more diversified contents including food, travel, and other entertainments. The development of the live streaming industry allowed streamer to share their interests and daily life to other people, and some of them have earned bunch of money from live streaming.

The live stream explosion in China has become a hot topic recently. Live streaming revenues in China between June and August 2016 reached 1.7 billion yuan ($246 million), according to China Tech Insights, spawning new apps such as Panda TV, Douyu Tv, YY, Inke and Momo, portal and micro blogging giant Sina, instant messaging and gaming company Tencent, video streaming sites Youku, Tudou, LeTV and iQiyi.[2]In addition to the traditional broadcast industry, mobile phone broadcast is becoming more and more common. There are hundreds of mobile apps in China.

However, challenges and risks are also come along with the booming industry. The copyright holders are the challenges posed by international communications and varying legislations; the exposure of sensitive or personal information risk, and susceptibility to attack risk. Like any new growing industries, lacking of moderation creates more uncertainties and risks for a lot people.

Streamer broadcast eating food


What is live streaming?

Livecasting or livestreaming is often the term used that describes the process of broadcasting real-time, live video footage or video feed to an audience accessing the video stream over the internet. The viewing device can be a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone or digital screen at home, at the office or in a brick and mortar venue such as a movie theater, restaurant, house of worship or sporting arena. The broadcast can be just video, audio or both. [1]

About Stream Media

Streaming media is multimedia that is constantly received by and presented to an end-user while being delivered by a provider.The verb "to stream" refers to the process of delivering or obtaining media in this manner; the term refers to the delivery method of the medium, rather than the medium itself, and is an alternative to file downloading, a process in which the end-user obtains the entire file for the content before watching or listening to it. With streaming media, the user does not have to download the entire digital video or digital audio file before starting to view / listen.

There are challenges with streaming content on the Internet. If the user does not have sufficient bandwidth in their Internet connection, they may experience a stop in the content and some users may not be able to stream certain content because they do not have a compatible computer or software system. As of 2016, two popular streaming services are the video sharing site YouTube, which contains a large number of video and audio files and Netflix, which contains streaming movies and TV shows. [2].



Screen capture showing Global Schoolhouse classrooms collaborating via CU-SeeMe

CU-SeeMe was introduced to the public on April 26, 1993 as part of the NSF-funded educational program (known as the Global School Building). Originally written by Tim Dorcey of Cornell University's Information Technology Department. It was originally developed in 1992 for the Macintosh, and later on the Windows platform in 1994. Originally used only in 1994 for Macintosh and 1995 for Windows video. By using the CU-SeeMe software to send video and audio signals over the Internet, students can see and hear each other as they work on a collaborative job.

In July 1993, London cable channel Channel One Television used CU-SeeMe to simulcast its programme Digital World on the Internet, and become the first British television program to be broadcast live on the Web.

In 1994, WXYC used CU-SeeMe to simulcast its signal to the net and so became the world's first internet radio station.

On the morning of Thanksgiving in 1995, World News was the first television show to be broadcast live on the Internet using the CU-SeeMe interface.[3] was founded in 2007 by created by Justin Kan, Emmett Shear, Michael Seibel and Kyle Vogt. The user of were encourage to board cast a variety of user generated contents, called "boardcasts". By April 10, 2008, had signed 30,000 broadcasting accounts and more than 60 different channels. [4]

Twitch was originally a channel under The site was launched in June 2011, focusing on video games, including video game play, e-sports broadcasts, creative content, and more recent music broadcasts. In October 2013, the site had 45 million unique viewers, and by February 2014 it was considered the fourth largest source of the highest Internet peak traffic in the United States. At the same time, parent re-branded as Twitch Interactive. closed in August 2014. [5]


Nestle Dumpstick Marketing Campaign on Prescope

Streamers are defined as people who host the live stream show. They are the content generators. Given the increasing popularity of live streaming and the development of the streaming technology, almost anyone can become a streamer.

Depend on the type of broadcasting content, streamers are divided into different categories. The majority of streamers are gaming streamers. Many of them are retired pro gamers while the rest are normal people who have great interest in gaming. Platforms like or gathers most of the gaming streamers and viewers. People who share their process of creation -composing, drawing, cooking, eating, make up and etc., - fall in the creative streamers category. [6]. These streamers are active on platforms like Periscope and People who use their phone to share their daily life are called casual streamers. Compare to gaming streamers and creative streamers, casual streamers would broadcast content that does not have a specific purpose. The broadcast would be more like a casual conversation, covering any aspects of streamers personal life.

In addition to individuals, companies and organization can be streamers. Experian used live video for chatting about credit, debt and student loans. Tesla and Nissan used live stream to introduce their product and make special announcements. [7]. Nestle collaborated with Periscope’s early influencers to produce a series of live streams for their marketing campaign. [8]

A Game Streamer: PewDiePie


Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg known as his online alias PewDiePie has the most popular Youtube channel "PewDiePie" over 50 million subscribers. He started his channel at 2010, and dropped his study to focus on his Youtube channel in the following year. PewDiePie soon gathered a rapidly increasing online following, and in 2012, his channel surpassed one million subscribers. His video content mainly focus on the reaction to various game when he play through them and devote to "sharing gaming moments with my bros" [9]

PewDiePie became the most subscribed Youtube user since August 2013. As of November 2016, the channel has received over 13.8 billion video views. In 2016, Time magazine named him one of "The World's 100 Most Influential People" [10]

Wall Street Journal reported that PewDiePie earned about $4 million in 2014, later PerDiePie confirmed that it was roughly around he actually earned. He has his personal website posting his video, as well as selling his merchandise. [11]

Social Eating: Kinoshita Yuka

Although E-Sport takes up a huge part of live-streaming content, many other types of broadcasts are popular in the livestreaming industry. Social eating is an good example. Social eating, also known as Muk-bang, is a type of live broadcast where the streamers can interact with the audience while they are eating. [12] This eating broadcast trend started in South Korea and quickly spread to other countries in Asia and worldwide.

Because most of the streamers eat a large quantity of food, the live broadcast will last for about one hour or more. During the broadcast, streamers will have time to chat with their audience, answer questions from them. [13] In order to differentiate their shows from the others’, streamers will use many strategies to create personal styles. They may crack jokes, exaggerate the noise while are eating, some may even sing and dance. [14]. If the audience and fans like the show, they can support the streamer by giving them virtual gifts that can be converted into cash in the future. Just like any other popular streamers, hosts doing social eating can also earn a decent income. One of the most popular social eating host, The Diva, made up to $9300 per month from her board cast. [15]

"Corporation streamer"

In addition to individual streamer, more and more companies have chosen to do product launch events using live streaming technology. Compare to the traditional face-to-face events, livestreaming event is better in terms of saving cost and promotion results. For instance, Tesla live streamed the reveal of the new Model 3 car in 2016. [16]. Viewers from all around the world were able to watch Elon Musk’s pitch on the Tesla’s website, as if they were attending the event. Also, instead of spending money in putting up a big event and facilitate thousands of people, gathering a smaller group of people while broadcasting the whole event is more cost efficient. [17].



Twitch viewer Demographic

On the other hand, the audience of the live stream is referred to as viewers. Given the increasing popularity of live streaming and the development of the streaming technology, almost anyone can become a viewer of the live stream. Take the most popular live streaming website,, as an example, 36% of its viewers are aged between 18-24, 24% are aged between 25-34. [18] Similar age distribution was seen in Periscope, 41% of users are aged 16-24 and 3 in 4 of them are under 35. [19]

Marketing the live streaming viewers

Why watch others play games

The dominating younger generation in livestreaming market is appealing to marketers. Traditional marketing campaigns took place on TVs and Newspaper, however, Teens and Millennials are using less and less of these traditional mediums. In the past 5 years, Millennials had migrated 40 % of their TV viewing time to other activities or streaming. [1] The traditional marketing models are less persuasive to the Millennials, due to this shift in habits. Therefore, companies who are targeting the Millennials would use live streaming platforms as one of their primary advertising channels.

The Discussion of "Why would you like to watch other playing games?"

There is an interesting question for streamer "why do you take the time to see others play the game?" For those who often watch the game live, they are usually the game players, and spend some time to play the game. Especially for views who playing competitive games, they hope that they could learn something from those pro-gamer to improve their skills in game. Such a group of people tend to have a sense of identity between each other. So, "What is the difference between someone who like playing games watch E-sport tournaments and someone who play football watch a football match?" The fact is that the marjority of society still can not recognize E-sport as a real sport.

Current Applications

Desktop Applications


Twitch broadcasting page

Twitch is a live streaming video platform owned by Twitch Interactive, a subsidiary of, Inc[2]. Initially, Twitch was just one of several content categories owned by, and he did not have the name twitch at the time. With the development of, the growth of the game category is particularly fast, and become the site's most popular content. In June 2011, decided to spin off the game content and named, inspired by the term twitching game. in June 2011 officially open beta version. Since then, Twitch has attracted more than 35 million unique visitors each month[3].

Since the establishment of Twitch, it has received a lot of venture capital support. In 2012 reached 15 million US dollars in 2013 reached 20 million US dollars.[4] [5]

Since its direct competitor shut down in 2013, Twitch has become North America's most popular e-sports streaming media service providers, almost monopolize the North American market [6] . As of mid-2013, Twitch has more than 43 million viewers per month, with an average audience viewing time of one and a half hours [7]. As of February 2014, Twitch is the fourth-largest Internet traffic source in the US peak period, behind Netflix, Google and Apple. Twitch at the peak of the total Internet traffic in the United States accounted for 1.8%[8]

In 2015, Twitch has streamed about 241,441,823,059 minutes which is almost 460,000 years. It has on average 550,000 concurrent viewers with peak of 2,098,529; 35,610 Peak Concurrent Broadcasters. Twitch also has partnership with most E-sport events such as ESL, IT5, and so on. [9]

2008 Youtube online live

Youtube Live

Youtube Live is a streaming owned by Youtube. it offers many different kinds of live content, such as sports, games, travel, technology, etc.

However, YouTube Live was a 2008 event streamed live on the Internet from San Francisco and Tokyo. It was launched November 22–23, 2008. It was hosted by a variety of YouTube celebrities, including The Black Eyed Peas rapper, Tom Dickson of Will It Blend, Michael Buckley, The Happy Tree Friends, Fred, Smosh, Esmée Denters and singer Katy Perry, among others. [10]

Youtube Live channel has 3,309,796 subscriptions. Like Twitch, Youtube live also involves in a variety of E-sport tournaments. Usually, people can see they can choose either Youtube or Twitch to watch E-sport online stream. Youtube probably is also main competitor in game streaming industry.

Mobile Applications



In the past two years, we have seen an explosion of live streaming applications in the mobile sector. Meerkat is the very first mobile live streaming app that successfully attracted the public attention during SXSW in 2015. Major social media companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all made their effort in capturing the fast-growing market. Twitter launched Periscope shortly after Meerkat’s success in SXSW, Facebook also launched their live streaming API in 2016. Given that the interactive models are very similar among the major mobile live streaming platforms; we will take Periscope as an example to illustrate how these apps work.

Once streamers log in to Periscope with their Twitter account, they can start their broadcast. Streamers also have the choice of whether or not to make the broadcast public. By sending out a link to their own twitter account, their followers will be notified that the broadcast is on. During the broadcast, viewers can send out “hearts” that float up on the right part of the screen to show appreciation. When viewers post comments or a new viewer join the broadcast, bubbles will show up and eventually fade out to the left of the screen. [11] ) In addition to the broadcasts that are brought by people that viewers are following, they can also join any global broadcasts that are public. Because of the flexibility, nature curiosity, and active interaction, Periscope surpassed 10 million accounts in only 4 months after their launch on iOS. [12] Due to it popularity, this “truly revolutionary” app was also named by Apple as the “App of the Year” in 2015. [13]

Streaming Features


In 2016, social media giants experienced some difficulties in terms of content originality. In other words, users are sharing fewer personal updates or original contents. Facebook experienced 21% decline in “original sharing”[14]. Social networks relied heavily on user generated content- the graduation photos of a friend, the short personal update post-are what keep the users coming back to Social Media. [15]. It can be very problematic if Facebook’s newsfeed is bloated with viral videos, memes and clickbait articles created by the professional media company instead of users original content. [16].

Live streaming can be the solution for this problem. The nature of live streaming almost guarantees that users will be sharing things about themselves, things that are attractive for their connected friends on Social Media. By allowing people to document their daily life using live broadcast, it is helpful in maintaining overall content originality.

“In the moment”

BuzzFeed Watermelon Live stream

Just like any other live broadcasting medium like live radio or live TV, Live streaming on internet also has the feeling of “in the moment”. Gaming live streams fulfill viewers’ willingness to watch skilled players playing games that they like. Event live streams enables people to join the event without actually visiting the site. Interview live streams allows viewers to asks questions in real time and interact with the interviewee like never before.

More Engagement

There are many aspects of live streaming are motivating engagements. Viewers can post comments, send out appreciation signals and support the viewers by buying virtual gifts during the broadcast. On the other hand, streamers can react to viewers’ requests and answer their questions immediately.

A good live stream has the snowball effect that it can become a trendy topic, generate more interaction even after the broadcast is over. [17]

The live stream on Facebook Live titled “Watch us explode this watermelon one rubber band at a time!” was brought by the BuzzFeed Team in April 2016. This single broadcast showing a man and a woman putting rubber bands on a watermelon and eventually exploded it got the biggest hit with 80,000 views on Facebook’s Live. [18]

Viewers sent 315,000 comments during and after the two-hour broadcast. “#watermelon” later became a trending topic that appeared on Facebook’s headline, watermelon memes were also created... [19]. Best of all, this successful live stream really demonstrated how powerful live streaming is in motivating engagement.

Business Opportunity

How does Twitch make money?

Twitch’s monetization channels

SuperData Research reports that "Twitch claims the largest revenue share in the video game content industry, taking 43% of the $3.8 billion market. Content creators earned approximately $2.9 billion in 2015 from sponsorships and advertising (the latter of which accounts for 77% of all game content revenue), with the remaining $890 million coming from donations and paid subscriptions"[20]


Like most Website do, Twitch offer position on its page for ads display and video media. They have about 3 Video ad units, 4 standard IAB ad units and 6 native ad units. They charge different CPM ranged from $2 -$10 seasonly [21]. CPM refers to "Cost per mille", is a commonly used measurement in advertising. Radio, television, newspaper, magazine, out-of-home advertising, and online advertising can be purchased on the basis of showing the ad to one thousand viewers. It is used in marketing as a benchmarking metric to calculate the relative cost of an advertising campaign or an ad message in a given medium.[22]


When viewers like some streamers' content, they may subscribe their channel which need to pay $4.99 per month. The streamer and Twitch start off 50/50 split, and when streamers' viewership reach some standard they can earn up tp 60/40 split about $3 per subscribe. Another option provided for views is Twitch Prime, it is a "premium experience on Twitch that is included with an Amazon Prime membership. Twitch Prime includes free games and exclusive in-game content, a free channel subscription every 30 days to be used on any Partnered channel, ad-free viewing on Twitch, exclusive emotes, and chat badge. Plus, get member pricing on new release box games on Amazon."[23]

Partner Program

Parter program is an exclusive plan for gamers who wish to broadcast regularly on the platform. Usually, the retired pro-gamer choose streamer as their second career, and most of them have fans following them. It is a great chance for Twitch to attract this group of people become its regular user by "partner with those retired pro-gamer". However, it is not that easy for normal player to become a twitch streamer, it requires a regular and average concurrent viewership of 500+ and broadcast at least 3 times a week. For gamers, especially in North America, Twitch is always the first option for them to broadcast, because of Twitch's huge user base in consideration of CPM and subscription. For Twitch, it is reasonable to keep such a high standard, which makes the platform so good. [24]

How much streamers get piad?


In Twitch, there are several ways for streamer to earn. First, Twitch will split 50% of $4.99 per subscription which nearly $2.5 for streamer, and twitch is open for scaling the subscription fee up to 60/40. Subscribing channel is one way for viewers to help support their preferred streamer, and almost every streamer has a donation button through PayPal. Many streamers have a leaderboard showing their highest monthly contributions, with some receiving thousands of donations each month.

Another important part is the advertisement feee which count in method of eCPM (effective cost per thousand impressions). Initially, streamer can expect eCPM to be in the range of $ 0.70- $ 1.40. The more popular streamers range from $ 1.00 to $ 2.50. A streamer with 2,000 concurrent viewers and $ 1.00 eCPM runs three commercial ads per hour, eight hours a week, five days a week, they can earn about $ 240 per week in advertising revenue or $ 960 per month US dollars. However, if the streamer get more popular with 20,000 concurrent audience and the eCPM is $ 2.00, or $ 40 per hour, or $ 1,600 per week or $ 6,400 per month.

In addition to advertising and subscribers, the streamers have more options to pull money. Sponsorship is one of the main factors of streaming revenue. Most of the sponsors are hardware producers or E-sport related businesses. Selling their own merchandise is also one way for them to generate more revenue. [25]

An example, Bjergsen is the mid-laner for Team Solo Mid, the most well known team in the West. He's one of the top players at his position, giving him immense popularity in both Europe and North America. Normally, if he's streaming League of Legends, he's the most watched broadcaster on For the month of December, he averaged 27,050 viewers watching him practice. Bjergsen's monthly Twitch earnings to somewhere between $20,000 and $40,000 per month. Ad income is range from $15,000 to $30,000 with $1.5 to 2$2 eCPM and 6 to 9 commercials per hours. The rest part are consist of subscription and donation, excluding the sponsorship.[26]

China's live-streaming explosion

In China lives streaming is becoming extremely popular especially in mobile apps, roughly 46% of China’s internet population used a livestreaming app in June 2016 [27] Credit Suisse stated in its September research report that it believes the Chinese personal livestreaming market will be $5B next year — already just $2B less than China’s movie box office total ($7B) and half the size of its mobile gaming market. [28].

Comparing to the game streaming, an individual do not have to be talent in a certain type of game to be a popular streamer. Instead, the interaction with viewers replace the need for "talent". If a viewer randomly enter into a streamer's channel, he/she can send up a question or gift to grab up streamer's attention. The streamer probably will answer your question, and thank you for your gifts. The interaction actually gives viewers a sense of recognition and gratification, where streamer get viewers's financial support of "gifts". For viewers, they rarely prepare for such an interaction, they just need to open their app and engage their audience.

The great competition between streaming platform is mainly focus on seeking for interesting content generator, which is actually streamers. As streamers are the content generators, and those popular streamers usually have lots of fans. Thus the platform are willing to sign a even million dollar contact to have them streaming on their site only.

An example, 22-year-old Wei “CaoMei” Han-Dong, a gamer who earns 5 million RMB ($817,863) annually playing popular multiplayer game “League of Legends” online. He was used to be one member of team "WE", and won “League of Legends” IPL 5 tournament in late 2012. In 2014 August, CaoMei signed an over $800,000 contact with ZhanQi TV a year as a professional streamer. Every one of CaoMei’s streams pulls in over 100,000 viewers for ZhanQi. [29]

Risks and Challenges


The overwhelming contents on live-streaming websites make it even more difficult for the censorship program to supervise and control, which will ultimately associate with four major risks. First and foremost, the copyright violation has become one of the most serious issues that come along with the rapid development of the live-streaming industry, as many of the audiences are uploading and watching the media contents that are recorded from the original copy. The technology companies held no responsibilities for the copyright issue and certainly shifted the responsibility to its audiences. While the boundary of copyright law violation is always unclear and vague for the live-streaming audience, it makes media companies defenseless for the illegal release of their media contents [30]

Lack of moderation & Privacy exposure

Lack of moderation and censorship on these websites has further proved that live-streaming service is inherently a double-edged sword. Some tragedies have already happened during some live-streaming show, while a French girl broadcasted her own suicide [31], an Ohio girl live-stream the process of her friend raping another girl [32]. The “creativity” of the audience will always beyond your imagination, therefore it is difficult for both the government and the companies to censor the live-stream contents and audience’s online behaviors.

Apart from the numerous different categories of online content, the nature of broadcast delay of live-streaming service is also challenging the justice investigation for illegal behavior online. Moreover, live-streaming service has this interactive feature just like other social media networks do - the audience can easily engage with others online. Notwithstanding, the online interaction and engagement at some degree will also lead to a problem of privacy exposure. Many of the live-stream users are not aware of the privacy problem as they might expose their personal information, life hobbies, locations and so on.

Harassment and cyberbullying

Lastly, harassment and cyberbullying are becoming a critical problem, because live-streaming service provides a fairly anonymous platform. The anonymity of the Internet makes the online users held no responsibility for their words. The user culture of real-time commenting on the live-streaming website has no control on verbal abuse, which ultimately all the online audience the common victim of the problem of personal attack.

Due to criticisms of the readability and ambiguity of privacy policies, many companies including facebook and snapchat have made moves to simplify the terms and conditions of their privacy policies.

The Future

Live streaming With VR VR live stream IEM

As VR technology is becoming more and more mature, we could expect that one day VR equipment will be much affordable for most people. Live stream VR then will become next hot topic for business investors and users to pay attention.

Live stream get popular from E-sport industry, today there are platform providing VR live stream of tournament live. is a virtual reality eSports platform, it was launching a beta app for both Android and iOS devices that supports 360-degree video for mobile and VR for Google Cardboard, covering broadcasts of three major eSports events: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends and Dota 2. has plans to add VR support for other major VR headsets as well.[1]

NextVR is platform providing VR live broadcast service. NextVR has now developed and patented the technology and built the only platform that can deliver live events in virtual reality with the energy and the passion of a truly immersive experience. FOX Sports, Live Nation, NBC Sports, HBO/Golden Boy, Turner Sports, and CNN have all partnered with NextVR to create a wide range of scheduled programs and highlights.[2]

Citizen Journalism

Although the mainstream of the live broadcasts focuses on entertainment, live streaming has the potential to become a powerful tool in citizen journalism. Defined by Glazer, citizen journalism refers to those “without professional journalism training [using] the tools of modern technology and the global distribution of the Internet to create, argument of fact-check media on their own or in collaboration with others”. Journalism nowadays pursuit real time, unbiased report. Thanks to the development in streaming technology, live streaming applications have the exact advantages that are valued by journalism. People who happened to be in the news scene can pull out their phones and start a live stream. Viewers from anywhere around the world are able to see the breaking news as it happens. Moreover, content being broadcasted would be absolutely raw and unfiltered[3] Given these advantages, it is very easy to understand why NBC would acquire the live streaming service provider- Stringwire- at the very early stage in 2013. [4]

On Demand Live Stream

Another potential application of live streaming could be on-demand live streaming. A live streaming app called Streamli is working on these kinds of features- “allow you to create requests for live streaming in any location in the world, hire local broadcasters and get exclusive live video content.” [5]. However, the future development of on-demand live streaming is not limited by location base services; it can be content-oriented. For instance, people can send out request on educational live stream, asking for live lectures. If someone on the platform are able to provide the lecture, they will then be paid by the viewer(s) for providing services. As we can imagine, on demand live stream can also be used in industries like healthcare, real estate, music, auto, etc,.


  1. Chris Tribbey (8/24/2016) "VR eSports Start-Up Raises $6.2 Million" Retrieved from
  2. NextVR
  3. (Hain, F. (n.d.). Streaming The News: The Opportunities And Dangers Of Live Streaming For Journalism. Retrieved from Emergency Journalism:
  4. Weprin, A. (2013, August 12). Here’s Why NBC News Acquired User-Generated Live Video Service Stringwire. Retrieved from Tvnewser:
  5. Streamli. (n.d.). On-demand, location-based live streaming. Retrieved from Streamli:
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