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The shift from text messages to live streaming and gifs has been quite massive and happening rapidly over time. Text messages are restricted by limited space. On the contrary, GIFS became popular as a tool to connect, because they are effective for communicating quickly and succinctly, making it easier to express feelings.

The revolution began with the advent of smartphones through easy availability of high-speed internet. Many platforms came into existence because of this trending way of communication. It started from Facebook to Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat and now live streaming apps like LiveMe, Periscope, YouNow, and Facebook Live. Users today prefer to be updated about events happening live across the world, along with live-chat, real-time experience, and gaining followers.

The Tech Panda spoke to Johnny Wu, Regional Director for the Indian and European market at LiveMe about the shift from text messaging to gif and now live streaming. “The shift to live streaming apps leaves no space for distortion of messages, since people can talk, comment, or ask questions in the real time. Live streaming also lets people showcase their talent through live videos to the world,” he says.

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LiveMe is a live broadcasting app and streaming platform that allows users to communicate with each other and social influencers ‘live.’ Developed and launched by Cheetah Mobile, the makers of popular utility apps, such as Clean Master, CM Security, and Battery Doctor, LiveMe allows real-time video broadcasting amplified by an assortment of features, including interactive stickers, face-mapping technology, and exchange of digital gifts such as unique emoticons. It allows users to share their favourite broadcasts or live events happening near them directly with their friends via various popular social apps.

Live streaming in India

Wu says India has become the world’s fastest-growing market for mobile applications on both the Apple iOS and Google’s Android Play Store, with a sharp spike in revenue in the first quarter of 2018. “The thirst for content among Indian mobile phone users is fuelling rapid growth, with video streaming apps proving to be the most popular downloads.”

The way Indians are consuming online videos is evolving. While the Indian market growth in using live streaming is witnessed mostly in metro cities, thanks to internet connectivity, tier 2 and 3 cities are also witnessing this new trend. According to a survey by mobile adtech and data analytics company MoMagic Technologies, 40% of Indians prefer watching videos on mobile phones.

“Popular video content no longer has to be professionally produced, with one in three (33%) connected consumers saying that most of the content that they watch online is produced by ‘people like me’ or celebrities,” Wu explains.

In India, LiveMe features over 50 influencers to engage with, including popular models, singers, and youth artists, such as Vishakha Sodha, Shruti Singh, Sonel Singh, Avanie Joshi, Shahzan Mujeeb, Nalin Swami, RJ Diamond, and RJ Kalpesh, apart from famous actors and stand-up comics, such as Gaurav Gera and Sahil Khattar, hosting live QuizBiz sessions.

Live streaming platforms attract millennials most

Users are not satisfied to just consume content now but want the power to create and become influencers. Millennials have an increasing appetite for video content and are a very active video viewer group. As Wu says, “1 in 3 millennials share content daily, and 84% share monthly, making them active sharers on media with a strong inclination towards mobile viewing. Video marketing is thus another factor that can help brands to reach masses through influential marketing.”

Millennials now cover a substantial part of the coveted 18-34 demographic. The rise in popularity of live streaming platforms such as Facebook Live and Periscope are leading millennials to share moments from their lives for a slice of mini-stardom. Along with live-sharing of moments, it also proves to be a money-maker for those who can command huge audiences.

“One can say live streaming is the latest internet money-spinner following the rise of blogging and vlogging as professions over the past decade,” he says.

LiveMe features

The latest feature introduced on the app is QuizBiz, an interactive live trivia format. India’s first live gaming show, QuizBiz saw specials being hosted by popular internet and television stars like Gaurav Gera and Sahil Khattar. LiveMe has seen a rapid growth in its popularity and has become a people’s favourite by offering them the chance to interact live with their beloved performers, answer questions pertaining to a variety of topics, and win instant cash prizes redeemable via PayPal or LiveMe coins.

Apart from QuizBiz, LiveMe also offers a variety of weekly live shows that are featured every day at 5.00 PM, catering to Live Music on demand, live masterclass sessions, etc. Famous singer Tochi Raina recently spoke about his upcoming songs while interacting with his fans on LiveMe during Valentine’s Day.

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Carving out its own niche in the USD 1 billion social entertainment industry market, the LiveMe app is backed by the technological acumen of Cheetah Mobile. LiveMe is a significant constituent of the mobile technology giant’s latest foray into the world of content-driven apps. In keeping with this strategy, Cheetah Mobile also acquired the news app, News Republic, with the deal accounting for 4% of its 1.13 billion yuan (USD 164 million) quarterly revenue, or about 450 million yuan.

The app has boosted its localised consumer engagement quotient in India by offering users localized virtual gifts, such as samosa, laddoo, jalebis and festive stickers. In fact, virtual gifts form an important part of the app’s monetization as well as gifting process, and the app has processed USD 1 million in virtual gift payments to its streamers within 7 months of its inception.

Although LiveMe is in the same domain as its competitors Facebook Live, Periscope, Meerkat, etc., the app’s evolved structure of ‘selfie-video’ broadcasting, varied content offerings, and a strategy of collaborating with local social influencers has seen it rapidly acquire a major share of the user base in the markets it has invested in.

LiveMe primarily targets the virtually active audience demography aged between 16-34 years, primarily located in Tier-I and II Indian cities. Launched in April 2016, the app is popular in countries such as the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia.

Affects of live streaming

With easy availability of live-streaming apps, tweens and teens are increasingly getting more involved. While the majority of live streaming action is mundane, some do provide a window into drug use, profanity, and nudity. Wu says, one needs to be conscious and aware of what they are sharing with the world.

“It is easy to get sucked into the voyeuristic void when perusing people’s lives streams. There is also the concern of spending too much time on screens that affects physical and mental health of a person. Live streaming apps, thus, also hold the responsibility to spread awareness about the adverse effects of using technology 24X7, encouraging young people to get involved in physical activity and to not lose touch with nature.”

Keeping cyber-security in mind, LiveMe has identified sensitive Indian keywords in both English and Hindi to block and report users posting unsavoury content.

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