Livestreamers take to outdoors in China as competition toughens
The livestreamers endure near-zero temperature levels as most of them rely on their viewers' donations as sole income.
Some livestreamers in Southern China have opted to open their broadcasts from the outdoors during during the late hours of the night, in cold weather reaching almost zero degrees, as they look for new ways to penetrate the highly competitive industry.
The Douyin streamers, a sister streaming app of TikTok with nearly 600 million users since 2020, have been choosing such spots in the city of Guilin most nights, where they set up their streaming gear, consisting of ring lights and microphones, and cover themselves with heavy blankets to fight off the very low temperatures, AFP reported on Thursday.
"There are too many indoor livestreamers," 27-year-old Qiao Ya, who streams every night from 9:00 pm to 3:00 am under the bridge, told the news agency.
"For indoor livestreaming you need to look pretty to be able to attract viewers, but I'm too average for that."
The streamers hope that broadcasting in the outdoors might motivate their viewers to make more generous donations, as most of them [streamers] rely on that money as their only income.
"Viewers might feel if we're outdoors or just by ourselves late at night that it's very tough, so they might be nicer to us," Qiao said.
While some streamers are making millions of dollars after they become celebrities due to the app, the bridge streamers are making barely pennies on the dollar.
According to the report, Qiao can make up to 600 yuan ($87) on a good night of streaming and just 10 yuan ($1.50) on a slow night.
Like most streamers of the app, Qiao's income is cut by almost 60 percent as fees to a talent agency that provides streaming gear, assistance, and body guards in certain circumstances, and manages their social media exposure.
An extra source of income
Some of the livestreamers have taken up broadcasting as an extra source of income, especially after the pandemic negatively impacted many jobs and industries, the report noted.
For eyebrow tattooist Zhang Xiaoxiao, the broadcasts are an extra source of income.
She said the Covid pandemic had hit her profession hard, with beauty salons crippled by health restrictions.
"Pressure was very high and business was bleak [during covid]... If not for this, I don't think I would be livestreaming," Zhang told AFP. "I really enjoy singing and dancing, so I thought I would make it a side job, to be able to do something I liked."
Zhang said sometimes people walking past react in frustration toward her.
"Some look at us with some discrimination. They ask 'Why don't you find a normal job?'" she said.
"So we choose a place far away from the residents, to try to not disturb people, and where it's very safe."
Despite the risks of a late-night stream in a public place, significant donations keep streamers like Qiao returning every night.
"One guy scrolled past my roadside livestream one night at 2:20 am and felt very touched," Qiao said.
The anonymous individual donated 3,000 yuan ($435), the livestreamer revealed.
"I was so happy that I went home early that night," Qiao said.
"Livestreaming is actually very simple, it's like making friends."