Since 2016, China has witnessed a rapid rise in its live streaming industry. Despite stricter governmental regulations, the industry has consolidated itself as an important part of China’s online landscape. For your brand, e-commerce live streaming is still rising and can represent a new way of promoting, interacting and selling to your audience.

A Few Figures

Like many of China’s digital and mobile social platforms, the number of users and value of the live streaming industry have gone through the roof in recent years.

The value of the live streaming industry is estimated to top 3.42 billion RMB by the end of 2018. This is on the back of its huge user base, which stood at 238 million monthly active users in China (MAUs) at the end of December 2017 according to a report by iResearch. This audience continues to grow by the day.

The Main Players

The most popular form of live streaming in China is made up of real-life content; people live streaming their daily lives. A majority of these people are amateurs who enjoy varying degrees of popularity. Some of the more popular real life live streaming platforms in China are YY Live, Huajiao, and Yingke, all of which are driven by the dedication of their users.

YY Live

One of China’s most popular live streaming sites, is owned by Guangzhou-based YY Inc. YY Inc was founded by Li Xueling, a former NetEase editor, in 2005 and seven years later they launched their live streaming platform, one of the first of its kind in China. YY Live allows users to broadcast live content related to music, technology, outdoor recreation, sports, and gaming.


Huajiao was created in 2015 by Hu Zhensheng, a former sales employee at IBM. In 2017, Huajiao users visited the site 44.5 times a week on average according to Cheetah data.


Yingke, another of China’s live stream leaders, was founded in Hunan by Feng Yousheng (who also founded the recently defunct music streaming service DuoMi).

Huya & Douyu

Another form of live streaming that has attracted a huge audience is China’s online gaming industry. Platforms such as Huya and Douyu have live streaming functions that allow users to communicate with their audience in real time.

Live Streaming for your brand

E-commerce live streaming

A number of live stream users have gained enough popularity to become key opinion leaders (KOLs) and use live streaming platforms as a means to promote products for brands. As a result, the e-commerce potential of live streaming is now being realized.

Often channelled through existing e-commerce platforms such as Taobao, JD and VIP, viewers can click on a cart button on live streamed content, sending them directly to the sales page where they can purchase the products being advertised.

These campaigns can take the form of heavily produced live streaming content, more natural, subliminal product promotion, and anything in between.

Promotional activities

In May 2016, L’Oréal held a Live hosts competition in cooperation with Taobao and selected 1 host to attend Festival de Cannes in France. Over a 5 day period, the host presented a series of live shows covering her experiences at Cannes and promoting L’Oréal’s make-ups and other beauty products.

At the same time, L’Oréal invited Chinese film stars attending the festival to host live shows on the digital app Meipai, accumulating 160 million likes on the brand’s Meipai account.

Following the campaign, sales on L’Oréal’s Tmall Store increased 30-fold.

Product testing

In 2016 , Maybelline broadcast live streamed shows featuring Chinese star Angela Baby, as well as 50 beauty-related KOLs, who tested the brand’s different lipsticks. Over 5 millions people watched these shows, generating sales of ten-thousand lipsticks on Taobao.