Challenges and Opportunities for Live Streaming Entrepreneurs in Singapore

Overview of Live Streaming in Singapore


Live streaming Singapore mainly takes part in social media platforms and other digital marketplaces to engage customers and can happen in the form of free demonstrations to promote a product or a live Q&A session for customers to better understand a particular service. It is a useful marketing tool as it creates an immediate form of interaction between buyer and seller. This immediate form of interaction is extremely important as it creates a more personal marketing experience for the customer and can better persuade a customer’s purchase. An estimated 29% of the population engage in live streaming of videos and music, thereby the consumer base is large. High internet penetration, with 82% of Singaporeans being active internet users, with the majority being active in social media, shows that the live streaming strategy can reach out to a large pool of consumers.

Singapore’s globalized economy is characterized by its open and trade-driven approach, which has provided an environment conducive to international business. The improved internet infrastructure in Singapore has facilitated digital transactions and a supportive regulatory environment for positive growth. Many global businesses and entrepreneurs rely on live stream events to market, promote, and showcase their products and services in a cost-effective manner. According to a study, 71% of Singapore’s internet users shop online, and an estimated US$4 billion was transacted in electronic commerce by the end of 2015, a number expected to grow in the future. Considering the population of 5.4 million, this study exhibits the potential of Singapore’s live streaming market, which provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs, young working adults, and other tech-savvy individuals to use various e-marketplaces to sell a wide array of products and services.

Importance of Live Streaming for Entrepreneurs

Live streaming Singapore is a convenient and unfiltered mode of communication with a potential client as it innovatively reaches out to an audience in real time to convey a particular message. Through the use of a camera and an internet connection, a live stream platform offers an opportunity to entrepreneurs as they have the ability to build their brand by creatively reaching out to consumers. Unlike a prerecorded video, live streaming allows entrepreneurs to build a level of intimacy with the viewer as the ability to ask and reply to questions is present. It’s an engagement loop because the easier the viewer can process and understand the message, the more likely they are to share or talk about it later. This is particularly helpful for entrepreneurs as a smaller level of awareness retreats back to the streamed message from among their target audience. With the ability to be creative and engage with consumers, live streaming serves as an opportunity gateway and step forward to entrepreneurs. During a survey conducted by a live streaming firm in 2016, 80 percent participants indicated that they would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82 percent prefer live video from a brand to social posts (videos prerendered). This reflects that there is an audience that is keen to be engaged through live video and an ample opportunity for an entrepreneur to effectively market their message or product.

Challenges Faced by Live Streaming Entrepreneurs

Singapore’s relatively small size often leads to the misconception that internet speeds and connectivity are consistently high across the board. However, streamers have found that viewers are not always able to support their broadcast quality, especially when high definition and 60fps streaming has become the industry standard. This compromises stream quality and leads to viewer dissatisfaction. Infinite, being a relatively new player in the market and reliant on third-party platform tools, has also run into issues that affect stream quality. The lack of local servers for some tools means that streaming performance may be less than optimal due to routing of connections to overseas servers.

Technical Issues and Infrastructure Constraints

Despite the fact that 74% of Singaporeans are latched onto the video-on-demand bandwagon, pushing video viewership to an all-time high, the majority of these viewers are not engaging with local live streaming platforms. The unmistakably global allure of platforms like Facebook Live, Instagram, and Periscope means that local content is competing with and getting drowned out by foreign noise. Cultural proximity could inadvertently become a barrier for local streamers aiming to gain a wider audience that may not always understand Singlish humor or the intricacies of local issues.

Limited Audience Reach

Another factor limiting audience reach is the difference in time zones around the world. The most significant difference is between Singapore and the USA, which is 13-16 hours. This means that when a streamer starts his stream at say 8pm, it will be 7-8am in the USA. This is generally the prime time for a working adult to start work, so they are unable to view the stream. The time zone difference also affects students as streams conducted in the afternoon, for example, would clash with school timing in another country. An example is how a large part of the gaming community and target audience of gaming streamers are students, however, the time zone difference makes it so that it is hard to conduct a stream at a time where it is optimal for both local and foreign viewers. High latency in certain games may also make it so that local players may not be able to play with players from other countries, which means they will not be able to involve them in a game. Live streaming platforms such as also generally recommend that streams last for at least 3 hours so as to have a higher chance of being placed on the front page and also for viewers to have a higher chance of finding the stream. This means that a streamer may have to stream at a specific time multiple times to build up to 3 hours, which may prove difficult to gather both local and foreign viewers.

Live streaming entrepreneurs in Singapore often find themselves limited by their local audience pool. This is because the reach of the stream is limited by the language it is conducted in. Streams conducted in English will only be able to reach an audience of 36.9% of Singaporeans as of 2016. This greatly limits their potential viewers as the other 63.1% may not be proficient enough in English to understand content delivered in it. Content creators in the Chinese, Malay, and Tamil languages will face a similar issue as their content will only be understood by the respective race. This also means that should they conduct a stream in their native language, the number of viewers from other races who understand the language will be severely limited. This language limitation greatly inhibits the growth of local streamers, and this was a key issue brought up during the 2016 Budget discussion by Minister of Communications and Information, Yaacob Ibrahim.

Technical Issues and Infrastructure Constraints

The stable foundation of a building determines its durability. In the same context, technical infrastructure plays an important role in determining the effectiveness and feasibility of live streaming. Good infrastructure and technology ensure the smooth running of programs without any disruptions. However, not all entrepreneurs have access to a strong and stable infrastructure. Technical issues related to hardware and software problems can cripple a planned streaming event. Sometimes it can be very frustrating for the entrepreneur as he has to cancel/postpone an event and, in the process, causing inconvenience and disappointment to his viewers. Inadequate infrastructure like slow internet speed can result in low video quality and audio disruptions, hence causing viewers to lose interest and opt out. The most detrimental effect of technical issues would be the damage done to the entrepreneurs’ reputation and branding. Viewers who had a bad experience would be reluctant to take part in any future events by the same entrepreneur. These issues can be magnified when the event involves a client and is considered high profile. Any technical disruptions or failure would be unacceptable and may even cause the client to sever ties with the entrepreneur. It is stated by Eevolver (2008) that the biggest opportunity when it comes to streaming lies within the corporate market. However, this is also where the highest expectation is for quality and professional service. Essentially, technical issues serve as a barrier to providing a quality service and may prevent an entrepreneur from moving forward in the industry. On a positive note, solving a technical issue effectively can actually boost an entrepreneur’s confidence and morale. Overcoming an obstacle and preventing it from happening again in the future is always an achievement.

Monetization and Revenue Generation

According to data, the majority of streamers are reliant upon passive methods of income. Of these, direct donations are the most popular, with 71% of streamers reporting that they have received a donation within the past 2 months. While not as significant in terms of prevalence, direct game sales, advertising revenue, and subscription revenue are rated as the next most successful methods of passive income. Game sales and ad revenue typically will not lead to a significant source of income unless the streamer already has a large viewer base, whereas subscriptions can provide a more steady source of revenue assuming a streamer is able to consistently retain a sub-base.

Monetization of online broadcasts, such as those created by streamers, is a detailed and multi-faceted issue. Each streamer has their own personal set of goals and needs, as well as their own viewership, which may affect how they go about attempting to monetize their stream. Below, we have compiled a comprehensive guide which details many different methods of monetizing online broadcasts, as well as data on how many streamers are successfully able to make a living off of their content. The methods are divided up into two subcategories, “Passive” and “Active” monetization. Passive monetization is defined as methods which allow a streamer to earn revenue while not actively streaming, whereas active monetization is defined as methods which provide an immediate source of income.

Opportunities for Live Streaming Entrepreneurs

Live streaming entrepreneurs today have a wide array of opportunities to tap into. The most evident opportunity is the growing demand for online video content. The growing accessibility of the internet and the proliferation of mobile phones have caused online video content to grow at an exponential rate. In a report done by Google, there has been a 2.5 times increase in global watch time for live content on YouTube, with 60% of that coming from mobile devices. In addition, social media users have also increased their engagement in video content. According to a report done by the social media company Animoto, 4 times as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it. All these statistics point towards the rising demand for video content on the internet and mobile platforms. With cheaper data plans on mobile phones, it is projected that video content demand will continue to rise, making it an opportune time for live streaming entrepreneurs to jump on the bandwagon. Another opportunity for live streaming entrepreneurs lies in collaborations and partnerships with brands. Traditionally, sponsors and advertisers had a hard time reaching out to a generation of young adults who spent less time watching television and more time on the internet. As mentioned above, the increase in demand for online video content has opened up a new avenue for sponsors and advertisers to reach a younger audience. One good example would be Red Bull’s sponsorship of The International, a major Dota 2 event hosted by the game’s developer Valve. The event featured a live streaming show broadcasted on Twitch and various other platforms. The result was a monumental success for Red Bull as they managed to reach a large global audience of young adults, attracting millions of views for the vast amount of content available. With a growing interest in eSports and competitive online gaming, there are many opportunities for live streaming entrepreneurs to organize events or shows catered to specific brands. This may range from product placement in a show to a full-blown sponsorship of an entire event.

Growing Demand for Online Video Content

The increase in the growing demand for online video content has proven to be an opportunity that live streaming entrepreneurs may capitalize on for a number of reasons. Youths nowadays are very fond of online streaming, especially through YouTube and Now TV, and less from traditional TV. According to a survey by The Straits Times, YouTube is the most popular online video platform with 71 percent of people aged 15-29 visiting it at least daily, more than six times that for free TV. Comparing the availability of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, priced at about $600, with that of a one-time payment of $229 for a Google Chromecast, youths do have a preference for streaming through internet-connected devices over traditional TV media. The successful bid by telcos SingTel and StarHub for rights to broadcast the next three English Premier League (EPL) seasons is evidence of the shift that has advertisers following eyeballs online. The reported $400 million spent between them will see all EPL matches made available both via internet and mobile apps. This is expected to generate more interest in streaming online and media app consumption. Due to the availability of content on the go, anytime via on-demand and allegedly less pirated live sports content compared to current methods, we can expect youths to adapt by increasing consumption of online media. Article 2(c)(ii) of the Media Development Authority (MDA)’s Internet Code of Practice requires Singapore media service providers to put up a substantial amount of locally made content on the Net and limit the negative impact of overseas content. With the introduction of the new licensing regime for video services on the Internet and connected devices, it will be a must for licensed services to meet a set of standards to protect the young from exposure to inappropriate content and uphold the nation’s basic values. This means production of more local online video content and possibly an increase in demand for such content.

Collaborations and Partnerships with Brands

On the other side, the brand will use the live streamer to reach out to a different group of customers. The age group will be lower compared with a traditional media audience. Garena’s marketing communications director Nicholas Aaron Khoo mentioned that the company hired several League of Legends players to tap into the younger audience. Evidently, the age range of the live streaming community will also attract gaming or eSports related companies. A good example would be Twitch’s collaboration with Red Bull for its Wings for Life Event where several streamers were promoting and participating in the charity event. With the same target audience, it is a matter of finding the right influencer to market the right product.

While money is important, managing director of Gushcloud Vincent Ha mentioned in an interview that it is not just about taking the money and it is important not to sell your soul. He had highlighted the importance of joining a brand with a product the influencer actually believes in and not just for the sake of money. This provides grounds for the live streamer to showcase a product to their fan base which they genuinely like or feel that it is useful to them. With the extra funding, this opens more doors for creativity in content as well. Eunice Annabel had previously done a hair makeover sponsored by L’Oreal in a bid to get her supporters to give her another chance after her previous stint with fame. With a small fix in her hair she mentioned “All I need is one more chance”. This proved to be a success and she managed to get back to her fame doing what she likes. With the right optimization, she could be using the extra money to produce better show content for her fans as well.

The backbone of brand collaboration lies in a win-win situation for both the brand, as well as the live streaming personality. Firstly, the live streamer will get monetary benefits from the brand which provides them some stability in what they are doing. Previous blogger Eunice Annabel mentioned how the money she was making from blogging was inconsistent and thus she decided to stop blogging to focus primarily on her private life. With the steady income from brand collaboration, it provides an incentive for the live streamer to carry on what they are doing thus resulting in a higher chance of success in the industry.

When comparing with live streaming in Western countries, the live streaming scene in Singapore is still at its nascent stage. Hence, it is very important for live streamers to get creative in their content and better monetize their fan base. This is where collaborations and partnerships with brands come into play. In the next segments, we will be discussing the various implementation and how this will affect the scene of live streaming in Singapore.

Expansion into International Markets

One of the key advantages of the digital era is the ease of access to international audiences. Singapore entrepreneurs seeking to expand their businesses are no longer limited to physical borders and traditional means of exporting goods and services. The internet and digital technologies allow entrepreneurs to reach a global audience quickly and with relatively low cost. According to International Enterprises Singapore, more than half of Singapore companies have internationalized their businesses. With international markets being a major target for most businesses, this percentage is set to increase over the next few years. The live streaming industry is no exception to this trend. Combined with the growth of global internet usage and higher purchasing power of foreign consumers, live streaming entrepreneurs in Singapore have a vast international market to tap into. Many live streaming platforms such as Bigo Live and Twitch already have an international user base. This provides a head start for local live streamers as they are able to interact with international viewers without having to leave the country. Singapore streamers are known for their proficiency in English and this could be an added advantage for them as they would have an easier time communicating with viewers in countries where English is widely spoken. High internet speeds in Singapore also enable smoother broadcasts with minimal technical issues compared to some other countries. This is especially important for live streaming as viewers are less likely to watch streams that are laggy or have frequent disconnections.

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