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China will have more than 300 million livestream viewers by 2020, up from 224 million at the end of 2017. China’s game livestreaming market has grown significantly over the past few years, which is in a virtuous cycle with the esports market and esports enthusiasts. Streamers, livestreaming platforms and game operators are all beneficiariers of the growth.

Whilst Twitch and YouTube are popular in the West, these platforms are not available in China. China has many popular domestic game livestreaming platforms, such as Huya, Douyu, YY, PandaTV, Huomao and Chushou. Some game publishers operate their own livestreaming platforms, including Tencent and NetEase.

Investment and Support

Game companies have invested heavily in livestreaming. Tencent invested $632 million in Douyu and $461 million in Huya in 2018. Google invested $77 million in mobile gaming platform Chushou. Huya recently went public on the NYSE, and Douyu is set to follow.

Game Streamers and Viewers

The majority of game livestream viewers are young males. Huya recently reported that 77% of its registered users are between the ages of 15 and 35. Game livestream viewers are true gaming enthusiasts, and are more likely to spend money tipping streamers and purchasing items in games. The number of female game livestream viewers is increasing steadily, especially as mobile game livestreaming increases. This is because mobile games have a higher percentage of female players than PC based games.

Monetising game livestreaming

Livestream platform operators, game streamers and game publishers have many revenue generation mechanisms. Streamers are reliant on platform contracts, brand sponsorships and virtual tips from viewers. Platforms monetise through the sale of virtual items, advertisements and subscriptions. Game publishers and brands can utilize game livestreaming platforms to promote products and increase overall sales.

Rules and Regulations

China’s livestreaming market is regulated in a similar way to the gaming market. China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has introduced new regulations that require streaming platforms to obtain a license and streamers to register with their real names, and ensure that “healthy content” is being streamed. Regulators prohibit the broadcast of games that are not licensed in China. Strict enforcement of these regulations has led to the temporary removal of livestreaming apps such as Bilibili and Douyu from the app stores, as they make changes to comply with policy.