What it takes to be an Internet live-streaming star in China

December 13, 2017
Industry News
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Meng Jing
meng.jing@scmp.com

Stress, fierce competition and long working hours – all part of life behind the smartphone camera when you work as a Chinese live-streaming star

Fan Fan is 26 and feels old and burnt out.

She works 10 hours a day, sometimes more, on weekdays. Weekends are even busier. She has worked every day this year except for three days during Lunar New Year and about two weeks to recover from surgery.

Fan is not in investment banking, nor does she work at a technology start-up. She is an internet live-streaming celebrity in China making a living off virtual gifts from followers who watch her sing, dance and eat. And she’s gone under the knife, enduring plastic surgery, to stave off the inevitable end to her career. She lies about her age, telling her fans she is 23.

“Age, face and figure are the top three key factors for the success of a female broadcaster,” said Fan, who goes by her stage name and declined to give her birth name. “No matter how hard you try, you can only make a living by live-streaming for five years at tops.”

China’s internet live-streaming industry has come under intense scrutiny recently after a string of scandals and mishaps, the latest incidents involving minors stripping online to gain viewers and a rooftopping star falling to his death.

In the business of live-streaming, getting more attention means earning more money from the “tips” given by fans, as well as from advertising and sponsorship revenue. And some broadcasters do extreme things to get attention – including stunts that are life threatening.

The most recent case was a young Chinese climber who died while making a selfie video as part of a US$15,000 “rooftopping” dare. The tragedy has spurred warnings from China’s state media against the perils of dangerous live-streaming. Continue Reading 
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