Riding the Livestreaming Wave Livestreaming content isn't just a trend; it is the way entertainment, e-commerce, and socializing coalesce to create a meaningful experience for both creators and viewers

By Saurabh Pandey

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While the pandemic brought our lives to a grinding halt, it certainly was a shot in the arm for livestreaming platforms. With strict lockdowns and travel restrictions in place, most of us turned to live entertainment, online gaming, and social apps. Livestreaming particularly kept people occupied, entertained, and connected to the world.

At the same time, celebrities, comics, singers, and actors who couldn't film new shows, hold concerts, or stage events turned to livestreaming to stay in touch with their audience. Livestreamed sports and gaming tournaments were watched by audiences worldwide. According to entrepreneur, influencer, and digital marketing guru Neil Patel, "The biggest trend we saw in 2020 was livestreaming. Due to the engaging nature of this format and the global pandemic, livestreaming has become the world's biggest hit."

Industry experts reckon livestreaming is poised to give television a run for its money.

Why consumers love it

The runaway popularity of livestreaming comes down to human psychology. Human beings are social creatures with a deep sense of curiosity. Livestreaming is like having a backstage pass: you see not just what the presenter intends to show you but also what happens organically during the stream. If the host so much as sneezes or accidentally reveals a movie plot like Tom Holland, who has a long track record of accidentally spoiling his Spider-Man movies, you get to see it live! It is real-time, unedited content that appeals to the voyeur in all of us.

Viewers can also connect with hosts, get shout-outs from them, and even interact with them through comments or video in the same live stream. This two-way communication makes them feel a special connection with the host. In short, live streaming is all about the personal, human element, which is entirely missing in on-demand content viewing and television.

How creators benefit

If you're an influencer or brand, live streaming allows you to reach a wider audience as there are no geographical, monetary or work barriers.

Live streaming is very flexible. It is not limited to audio-visual streaming alone. It can easily include multimedia presentations, live chats, texts, photos, and pictures. Creators can tweak the content mix to suit their individual needs. Creators can ask questions, solicit opinions, invite participation, and ask for feedback. Research reveals that no other platform or marketing strategy can garner the same level of interaction and engagement. This unparalleled level of engagement allows presenters and brands to gather data, continuously tweak their offerings and build a loyal online community of followers.

The rise of livestreaming in India

Increased Internet penetration, improved technology, affordable smartphones and data plans, and of course, the pandemic have contributed to the rise of live streaming in India. A recent report by Market Research Future (MRFR) predicts that the global live streaming market will reach $534.37 billion, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 29.3 per cent by 2030. India is expected to mirror this growth.

According to a 2021 Red Seer report, "Of the next 300 million internet users to be added in the coming 5 years, 95% will come from tier 2 towns and villages." Young people are increasingly choosing to become social media influencers instead of taking up conventional jobs. Indigenous vernacular social gaming and entertainment apps are their first choice. These apps cater specifically to the 'Bharat' audience and are used by a vernacular, tier-2 creator base of 10.5 million.

Some truly out-of-the-box thinking has made vernacular live streaming financially viable without having to rely on advertising, brand partnerships, and big sponsors. The live events are not limited to just social gaming – any talent such as singing, dancing, and cooking can be streamed and monetized. Many of these apps plug deep into the Indian psyche. On a certain app, top influencers stream desi games such as antakshari, ludo, tambola, chidiya udd, and musical chairs, which were our childhood favourites. Tier-2 audiences love it because of the two-way engagement.

With continued interaction and engagement with their followers, even small creators can generate income via virtual gifts from their fans, even small creators can generate income via virtual gifts from their fans. They can also earn through championship earnings and sponsorships. This is crucial for beginner-level creators without connections to leverage.

The road ahead

Livestreaming is still at a nascent stage in India. Over time, though, India's fast-growing livestreaming industry has the potential to attract 20 per cent of the country's total digital advertising revenue. Homegrown apps are particularly well-placed to cater to the large Bharat audience. According to Red Seer Consulting, video commerce through livestreaming content has the potential to reach a size of $2-5 billion GMV by 2025. It's clearly a win-win for everyone.

Saurabh Pandey

CEO & founder, Eloelo

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