Top 13 Most Popular Live Streaming Platforms in China

GAB Team

GAB Team

The streaming market in China has seen rapid expansion in recent years, driven in large part by the growth of live streaming platforms in China. In 2021, the live-streaming e-commerce market reached approximately 2.27 trillion yuan, a significant rise from 120 billion yuan in 2018.

According to a forecast made in August 2023, the market size of live streaming in China was expected to reach around 1000 billion yuan by 2024.

This growth is underpinned by the increasing popularity of live streaming as a medium for e-commerce and entertainment​​. The number of live-streaming users reached 751 million by the end of 2022, accounting for 70.3% of China’s netizens.

For comparison, livestream e-commerce sales in the United States were around US$17 billion in 2022, with projections to reach about US$55 billion by 2026​​.

How Do Chinese Live Streaming Platforms Contribute to the Advancement of Your Brand?

Chinese Video Streaming Platforms have emerged as powerful tools for businesses looking to expand their reach and boost their brand presence. These platforms offer a unique opportunity to connect with a massive audience in China and beyond. We will explore how Chinese live streaming platforms can significantly contribute to the advancement of your brand.

1. Expanding Your Reach and Audience Engagement

Chinese Video Streaming Platforms, such as Youku, Douyin, and Tencent Video, have millions of active users who regularly tune in to watch a wide variety of content. By leveraging these platforms, you can tap into this vast audience and promote your brand in an engaging way.

Whether you create informative tutorials, entertaining product showcases, or captivating brand stories, these platforms provide a dynamic stage for your content.

One of the key advantages of Chinese streaming sites is the ability to interact directly with your audience. Live streaming, in particular, has gained immense popularity, allowing brands to engage with viewers in real-time.

You can answer questions, address concerns, and gather feedback instantly, fostering a stronger connection with your audience. Additionally, interactive features like comments, likes, and shares further enhance your brand’s visibility and reach on these platforms.

2. Leveraging User-Generated Content and Influencer Collaborations

Another exciting way Chinese Video Streaming Platforms can contribute to your brand advancement is through user-generated content (UGC) and influencer collaborations. These platforms offer a space where users can create and share their content related to your brand or products. Encouraging UGC not only promotes your products organically but also builds a sense of community around your brand.

Furthermore, partnering with influencers who have a strong presence on Chinese streaming sites can give your brand a significant boost. These influencers have dedicated followings and can authentically promote your products or services to a receptive audience. Their endorsement adds credibility and trust, which can translate into increased brand recognition and sales.

3. Analyzing Data for Informed Marketing Strategies

Lastly, Chinese live streaming platforms provide valuable data and analytics tools that can help you refine your marketing strategies. By tracking viewer engagement, demographics, and content performance, you can gain insights into what works best for your brand. This data-driven approach allows you to tailor your content and marketing efforts, ensuring they resonate with your target audience.

In 2023, live-streaming in China continued to grow, both in terms of platforms and user engagement. Let’s delve into the leading platforms that have shaped this domain and explore how brands can strategically leverage these dynamic spaces for maximum impact.

 

Top Video and Live Streaming Platforms in China

 

1. Douyin Livestreaming

Douyin, known internationally as TikTok, is a leading short-video and live streaming platform in China. It has gained massive popularity due to its engaging content and interactive features. Douyin’s live-streaming allows users to interact with the streamer in real-time.

Viewers can send comments, ask questions, and even send virtual gifts, which can be monetized by the content creators. Live streams on Douyin cover a wide range of content, including entertainment, lifestyle, education, fashion, cooking, and more. This diversity attracts a broad audience with varying interests.

Many influencers and celebrities use Douyin for live-streaming, which attracts their fans and boosts engagement. These live sessions often include performances, Q&A sessions, and personal life sharing. Douyin has integrated e-commerce capabilities into its platform.

During live streams, creators can showcase and sell products. This feature is particularly popular among brands and retailers, as it allows them to directly engage with potential customers and drive sales.

Douyin Livestreaming platform in China

A host showcasing traditional attire during a live stream, with a ‘shop’ icon available for viewers to make instant purchases

 

Like all digital platforms in China, Douyin adheres to strict regulations. Content is monitored for adherence to local laws and cultural norms, and the platform actively censors content that does not comply with these standards.

Live streaming on Douyin is not just about content dissemination; it’s also about community building. Creators often build a loyal following, with whom they interact regularly, creating a sense of community among viewers.

 

2. RED (Xiaohongshu)

RED, also known as Xiaohongshu or Little Red Book, is a platform that has evolved from user-generated content to a blend of content creation and commerce. Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2023, RED had over 260 million active users.

The platform recently intensified its focus on monetization by merging e-commerce with live-streaming services, enabling bloggers and live streamers to become product-selling entrepreneurs​​.

RED’s main strength lies in its multi-user UGC community, particularly appealing to young women in China. It is known for its role in exploring new products and trends, providing a platform for real-time exposure.

Despite being an effective platform for seeding (pre-purchase research), RED has a lower purchase rate within its ecosystem compared to platforms like Douyin, Kuaishou, and WeChat. Users often use RED for research and turn to other platforms for actual purchases​​.

RED, the Live Streaming Platform in China, has successfully diversified its content, spanning across beauty, lifestyle, food, travel, parenting, and even entrepreneurship. The platform’s continuous algorithm improvement and unique approach to content and advertising collaboration distinguish it from other social media platforms.

One of its significant innovations in live streaming is the introduction of “quiet livestream,” focusing on product presentation and consumer experience, differing from the more aggressive sales tactics seen on other platforms.

KOL Teresa Cheung in Livestreaming platform in China

Teresa Cheung introduces eyeshadow palette during a livestream show on RED

For example, renowned KOL Teresa Cheung in China embraced this approach while presenting an eyeshadow palette. Eschewing the typical rapid sales pitches, she meticulously highlighted each shade, intertwining art and cultural narratives.

Her debut livestream on LRB captivated over 1 million viewers and resulted in sales amounting to 50 million yuan (about $7 million US). This method particularly resonates with LRB’s core demographic: young females from upper-tier cities. These consumers have a keen appreciation for product quality, the story behind the brand, and its cultural relevance.

 

3. WeChat

WeChat Channel live-streaming is a feature within the WeChat ecosystem, a multi-purpose app developed by Tencent, which is predominantly used for messaging, social media, and mobile payment services.

The live-streaming feature is integrated into WeChat Channels, making it easily accessible to WeChat’s extensive user base. This integration allows for seamless transition from messaging and social networking to live streaming within the same app. Live streams on WeChat Channels cover a wide range of content, including lifestyle, education, business, entertainment, and more.

WeChat’s strong e-commerce capabilities are also evident in its live-streaming feature. Businesses and influencers can use live streams to showcase products and services, facilitating direct sales and promotions to viewers.

For instance, skincare and beauty brands like Perfect Diary and Forest Cabin (林清轩) have utilized WeChat mini-programs to conduct live streaming sessions for sales promotions. The majority of viewers for these mini-program live streams are typically followers of the brand or have previously engaged with the brand’s mini-program.

Forest Cabin’s live streaming on WeChat

Forest Cabin’s livestreaming on WeChat

 

4. Weibo

Weibo, often referred to as China’s equivalent of twitter, is a micro-blogging platform that boasted 573 million active monthly users in 2023. Known for its openness and accessibility for brands, Weibo is a prime site for viral marketing and influencer collaborations.

Brands can engage with their audience through various means, including live-streaming, textual and visual content, and hot topics. This platform is particularly effective for brand promotions and endorsements by key opinion leaders. Brands leverage the platform’s vast reach and popularity through paid promotion campaigns and interactions with followers​​.

Live streaming on Weibo is frequently used for product promotions and sales. The live streaming platform in China, Weibo, has features that allow viewers to purchase products directly during a live stream, making it a powerful tool for online retail and marketing.

The real-time nature of live streaming on Weibo fosters a sense of immediacy and connection between the broadcaster and the audience, making the content more engaging and personal.

During the pandemic, when in-person university events were not feasible in China, GAB utilized Weibo’s live-streaming capabilities to facilitate connections between overseas universities and students in China. We selected Weibo for its open platform nature, which not only enables engagement with students already considering these universities but also reaches new potential students.

The content shared through these live streams had the added advantage of being accessible to non-followers, thanks to Weibo’s expansive network. For instance, Weibo’s “discover” feature automatically amplified the visibility of the live events, promoting them to a broader audience. Furthermore, GAB employed Weibo’s advertising system in advance to enhance awareness and knowledge about the event among users.

Weibo streaming platform in China

 

5. Yizhibo

Yizhibo is a significant live-streaming platform in China, known for its extensive reach and popularity among users and celebrities. Launched in May 2016, Yizhibo quickly gained traction and within two months of its launch, over 300 Chinese celebrities had registered accounts on the platform, actively interacting with fans​​. This rapid growth highlights the platform’s appeal and its effectiveness in engaging a wide audience.

One of the key features of Yizhibo is its integration with Weibo, a leading social media platform in China. This integration allows Weibo users to view Yizhibo live streams and videos, interact with broadcasters, and send virtual gifts to live broadcasters directly on Weibo, without the need to install any additional applications​​. This seamless integration has contributed to Yizhibo’s popularity, making it easily accessible to Weibo’s large user base.

The platform is not only popular among celebrities but also among the general public, offering a space for diverse content ranging from entertainment to personal broadcasting. The Yizhibo app is marketed as a platform where users can meet celebrities, beauties, and handsome men, indicating its focus on providing a variety of live streaming content and interactive experiences​​.

 

Bilibili Logo

 

6. Bilibili

Bilibili is a popular video sharing platform where users can upload, view, and add commentary to videos. It is known for its focus on animation, comic, and game (ACG) content. However, its range has expanded to include a much broader variety of videos. Bilibili is particularly popular among younger generations and offers features like bullet comments, where comments fly across the screen during video playback, enhancing the interactive experience.

Bilibili’s live-streaming is more centered around entertainment, gaming, and ACG content, providing a platform for creators to interact with a community that shares similar interests.

 

7. Taobao Live

Taobao Live is the live-streaming feature on Taobao, the massive online shopping platform owned by Alibaba Group. It represents a convergence of e-commerce and entertainment, a trend often referred to as “retail-tainment.” It’s a platform where shopping is not just a transaction but an engaging, social, and entertaining experience, significantly reshaping the landscape of online shopping in China.

This platform seamlessly integrates live streaming with e-commerce. Retailers, brands, and influencers use the platform to showcase products and interact with customers in real-time. Viewers can purchase products directly through the live stream interface.

Taobao Video Streaming Site

Influencers promote products on Taobao Live for 11.11 pre-sales

 

Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and influencers play a crucial role in Taobao live platform. Their live streams often attract large audiences, and they have the power to significantly influence consumer decisions and drive sales.

Messi's livestream with Chinese influencer on Taobao Streaming platform

Messi’s livestream with Chinese influencer Li Xuanzhu on Taobao Live attracted over 2.5 million viewers. Photo: Alibaba Group

 

Taobao Live offers an interactive and engaging shopping experience. Viewers can ask questions about the products, participate in live polls, and interact with the host and other viewers.

The platform is known for hosting various sales events and promotions, especially during major shopping festivals like Singles’ Day (11.11) and 618.  These events typically drive significant traffic and sales. By the end of 618 shopping festivals in 2023, Taobao Live had an impressive 490 livestreams and generated over 1.39 billion (10 billion RMB).

Tmall Luxury Pavilion reported that jewelry sales made via livestream were 10 times higher during the first four hours of the festival than 2022.

Sellers on this platform have access to real-time data and analytics, helping them understand viewer preferences, engagement levels, and buying patterns, which can inform their sales strategies. Live streaming on Taobao has been shown to have a significant impact on sales, with many products selling out quickly during popular live streams.

 

8. Kuaishou

Kuaishou, another major live streaming and short video platform in China, competes directly with platforms like Douyin (TikTok’s Chinese counterpart). It is known for its focus on real, user-generated content.

This approach differs from the more polished and entertainment-oriented content often found on Douyin. Kuaishou’s platform is more about everyday people sharing their lives, which includes a wide range of activities and experiences.

The platform is particularly popular among users from smaller cities and rural areas in China, offering a more diverse range of perspectives and content than platforms that primarily cater to urban users.

Similar to other live streaming platforms in China, Kuaishou integrates e-commerce capabilities. Users can sell products during their live streams, and viewers can make purchases in real-time, a feature that has become increasingly popular for both large brands and individual sellers. The platform hosts various forms of entertainment, including singing, dancing, and comedy, and also organizes contests and challenges to engage users.

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9. Huya

Specializing in game live streaming, Huya is one of China’s leading platforms for esports and gaming content. It’s a go-to platform for game enthusiasts looking to watch live streams of various games and gaming events.

Huya Streaming website in China

 

10. Tencent Video

Owned by the tech giant behind WeChat, Tencent Video is one of China’s largest online video platforms, boasting hundreds of millions of users since its launch in 2020​​.

Tencent Video Live Streaming:

Tencent Video offers a wide array of livestreaming content, including sports events, concerts, TV shows, and exclusive live broadcasts of popular series. Known for its high production value in both regular programming and live-streaming content, Tencent often collaborates with well-known directors and producers.

The platform allows viewers to interact through comments, likes, and virtual gifts during live streams. Tencent Video also provides premium live-streaming content, including early access to episodes of popular shows or exclusive live events, usually under a subscription model.

Leveraging Tencent’s strong presence in the gaming industry, the platform is a popular destination for live-streaming of e-sports events and gaming content. Many Chinese celebrities use Tencent Video for live streaming, providing fans with behind-the-scenes access and interactive experiences.

 

11. Youku

After merging with Tudou in 2012, Youku Tudou now dominates the Chinese online video market, holding a significant market share​​.

Youku is notable for including educational, cultural, and documentary-style content in its live-streaming portfolio, appealing to a more diverse audience base.

Similar to Tencent Video, Youku offers interactive features for live streams, such as viewer comments and virtual gifts. Youku hosts various live events, including concerts, award shows, and exclusive interviews. Youku is known for offering a mix of professionally produced content and user-generated live streams.

Youku Streaming Site in China

12. YY

One of the older live streaming platforms in China, YY focuses on music, education, and a variety of entertainment content. It’s well-known for allowing viewers to interact with streamers through virtual gifts.

 

Inke logo

13. Inke

Popular for personal broadcasting, Inke is a platform where users can showcase their talents, share their lives, and interact with viewers in real-time.

Inke’s success in the Live Streaming Platform industry in China can be attributed to its robust technology infrastructure, which ensures seamless streaming quality and minimal latency.

Moreover, the platform offers monetization options for content creators, allowing them to earn income through virtual gifts and donations from their loyal fan base. This financial incentive has led to the rise of many successful Inke broadcasters who have turned their passion into a sustainable career.

Livestreaming in China: What Companies Stand to Gain

In order to drive more traffic, brands can collaborate with other brands that have similar target customers. They can also livestream in a special location, which adds a bit of novelty and makes it more interesting than their regular livestreams.

The primary appeal of live-streaming for businesses is the potential for immediate revenue generation, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Brands can also leverage live-streaming to recruit new consumer demographics, launch new products, educate  consumers, and generate buzz.

Jimmy Choo achieved remarkable success launching high-priced sneakers via live-stream events on Tmall, reaching 16 million viewers and selling 300 pairs in mere minutes. This approach aligns with the luxury sector’s emphasis on exclusivity and scarcity.

In conclusion, live-stream commerce transcends beyond a mere sales tactic; it embodies a comprehensive strategy that enriches brand engagement, educates customers, and deepens market penetration.

 

Eager to explore the full potential of live-streaming for your brand?
Reach out to Gab today for a free consultation and unlock the secrets to successful live-streaming strategies.

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