The Future of Live Streaming Platforms in Singapore

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Live streaming Singapore is one of the fastest growing segments of the internet. Live streaming refers to online streaming media simultaneously recorded and broadcast in real time to the viewer. It is a cost-effective way to share a variety of content with a broad audience. Live streaming Singapore has played a key role in spreading information at a national and international level. This technology will help make video content more accessible to users (viewers). The introduction of an interactive online platform will bring a revolutionary change to how people use the internet in their daily lives. Live streaming will allow individuals and businesses to broadcast events to friends, family, and the public in an easy and cost-effective manner. Up until 2007, users could only stream live broadcasts from their computers, but in recent years, mobile streaming has gained widespread use, with Periscope being the most popular mobile application to offer this service. An event held on 16 December 2016 by the Media Development Authority of Singapore, where the chairman Mr. Niam Chiang Meng mentioned that social media will see a change in the next 5 years, we should expect a massive change in the media environment. During his speech, he mentioned that Singapore is now in a digital age, social media is providing a different way for people to communicate, and it is also part of the changing media environment. Live streaming services or mobile applications he mentioned are disruptive technologies to traditional broadcast services, and they allow content to be broadcast over the Internet, which is very much in line with today’s digital age. This will change the way people access and consume media and content. There won’t be a better time than now to study the future of live streaming platforms in Singapore.

Overview of Live Streaming in Singapore

Live streaming in Singapore is still an emerging technology. In 2009, the inaugural Youth Olympic Games held in Singapore was a litmus test for the adoption of new media by Singaporeans. Live streaming technology was used for the broadcast of the events to 77 territories, making it the largest online broadcast for any event using such technology in Singapore. This was a joint project done by MDA and Singtel. In the same year, it was announced that the inaugural F1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix was streamed ‘live’ to airlines, marking the first time that an airline had broadcasted a live sports event. Fast forward to the current time, more and more users are on social media or messaging platforms rather than watching live television or subscribed cable programming. An article by Mark Ritson in Marketing Magazine had indicated that computers, tablets, and smartphones have become the ‘first screen’ for the millennial generation. In a statistics report done by Statista on the most popular digital activities in Singapore from 2018 to 2019, using a social media platform or watching videos was the third most popular activity amongst internet users, followed by reading news and playing games. This shows that there is an evident shift towards digital media and live streaming is a function that can be done on these platforms, hence making it easier to reach out to an online audience.

Importance of Live Streaming Platforms

From a viewer perspective, one of the impacts of live streaming platforms is possibly the extensive satisfaction in entertainment. In their study, it was discovered that entertainment is one of the key gratifications among Singaporean youths using digital media. With the recent rise in gaming and esports, Singaporean youths today patron gaming content for entertainment and leisure. Undoubtedly, gaming and esports content correlates with gaming culture which could then be related to Singapore’s gaming culture. This could also be seen through events such as Gamestart Asia, a gaming convention in Singapore which has seen improvements and a larger number of visitors since it was first held in 2014.

The modern day communication and entertainment has largely embraced digitization and internet usage, with the widespread of connectivity through digital platforms fostering new methods of media consumption such as streaming. It is undeniable today that streaming has become one of the key driving forces of media consumption with massive platforms such as Twitch and Youtube Live, providing both a source of entertainment and income for content creators round the globe. According to Statista’s E-commerce Report, the number of digital video viewers in Singapore is expected to increase from 4.7 million in 2016 to 5.7 million by 2021, which amounts to 88 percent of the population. From its massive viewership, it is evident that streaming has slowly assimilated into Singaporean media culture, indicating its importance to be rather immense.

Current State of Live Streaming Platforms in Singapore

The immense popularity of BIGO Live has made it one of the top live streaming platforms in Singapore. Launched in March 2016, it has over 200 million users in more than 24 countries and is currently the market leader in the live streaming industry. It also has the highest monthly active users (MAUs) in countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines, and Cambodia. MAUs in Singapore can range from 500,000 to 1,000,000 depending on different events happening throughout the year. Twitch, the world’s leading video platform and community for gamers, has recently seen a surge of local viewership due to an increase in its marketing efforts for events and partnerships in Southeast Asia. Facebook Live and Instagram Live have also gained a significant following due to a highly integrated UI and their popularity as social media apps. The concept of live streaming mobile games or IRL content through these apps has enticed users who already have existing Facebook or Instagram accounts to easily switch to live streaming from the same platforms.

In recent years, many live streaming platforms have made their way to Singapore, a small island in Southeast Asia. The increasing popularity of live streaming has attracted numerous local users, as well as users from neighboring countries. China and US-based streaming platforms such as BIGO Live, Twitch, and AfreecaTV have started to create servers within the country. With the exception of Twitch, these platforms have gained a significant amount of local users. The local market is also heavily saturated with other international platforms such as Facebook Live and Instagram Live. While each of these platforms is different in their own ways, the concept of live streaming remains constant.

Popular Live Streaming Platforms in Singapore

Twitch is an exceptionally popular platform due to its large selection of games, gaming-related content, and accessibility to both English and Chinese-speaking users. The viewer base of Twitch in Singapore consists of gamers and students, and as gaming culture is prevalent in youth and young adults of Singapore, this viewer base may not change for the near future. Twitch was also the inaugural English-language live streaming platform in the world and has roots in the West, giving it a unique Western and Eastern identity.

The live streaming platforms in Singapore are unique and reflect the dual-language culture of the nation, as well as their close proximity to East Asia. The influence of East Asia is prevalent with the popularity of East Asian live streaming platforms, many of which have a large following in both the East and Southeast Asian regions. The most popular live platforms in Singapore are Twitch, BIGO Live, and Nimo TV.

Market Share and User Base

In recent years, Twitch.tv has seen rapid growth in Singapore. Due to the lack of proper monetization techniques for streamers on other platforms, many have opted to switch to Twitch.tv. This has caused their entire viewer fan base to follow them via Twitch. There are also features in the pipeline that Singapore can benefit from. With the introduction of the Twitch Partner Program, it gives streamers an opportunity to monetize their streams. Additionally, with servers located in Singapore, there will be fewer problems in broadcasting in higher quality.

To sum it up, market share and user base go largely to the three multichannel platforms. The multi-channel platform has been well received both by the streamers and the viewers. As viewers get to choose whom to watch, they tend to go to the bigger channels. The variety of streamers in one platform means viewership can translate from one streamer to another without having to change browsers for another website. Meanwhile, the streamers get better coverage through promotions and collaborations with fellow streamers.

Challenges Faced by Live Streaming Platforms

By now we know that the future of live streaming is not direct to consumer, but in providing content for events from electronic sports to national cultural festivals. Unfortunately, current events are also subject to the necessity of a niche license. Livestreaming of the 2011 SEA games was used as a case study. The nature of the event meant that it required concurrent online and offline broadcast coverage to be considered an international event for the games federation. The rights holders were unable to find any reasonably priced services that could provide a suitable platform and the necessary geo block, this was because the services would be subject to paying the same standard rate for niche and premium content. Thus the event was only covered by various news websites using their own webcasts. This issue will no doubt be exacerbated by the recent announcement that niche content providers will be eligible for the Productivity and Innovation Credit. Aiming to lower the costs of automation or upgrading of IT and scheme will provide a 400% tax break or grant.

The specific effect of the TV Blackout was less severe in comparison to the Media Development Authority’s (now IMDA) introduction of the Class Licence (Publications) Notification on IPTV in 2011 and on VoD in 2012. While not intending to directly regulate the access to foreign content, these measures essentially compelled IPTV and VoD services to comply with Singapore’s rather stiff media content standards. For movies and dramas, this entailed full-fledged censorship and toning down of content that was not culturally or socially in line with Singapore’s traditional values. Failure to comply would result in the service being classified as a Notifiable Telecommunication Service, requiring it to apply for an individual license. In November 2013, the MDA further stated that it would require OTT services to register with them. All these measures directly affect content providers and may deter potential new streaming services, as the constraining guidelines seriously hamper the ability to provide a wide array of content.

As early as 2016, licensing had already proven to be a significant challenge for live streaming platforms amidst the immense growth and the increasing likelihood of the platforms competing against mainstream media for market share. Starting with the Notflic Asia case, where the on-demand anime streaming service was forced to close its operations in Singapore due to pressure from the global copyright enforcement group ACE, local ISPs were made to issue a “TV Blackout” on all services that were not authorized by rights holders – this was to uphold the Broadcasting Act. ISPs responded by disabling access to certain services or providing alternatives to illicit streaming sites. Such measures significantly hindered the consumers’ ability to gain access to legal content. This made the services less attractive as the anvil of globalized copyright enforcement threatened the livelihood of the platform.

Trends and Innovations in Live Streaming Platforms

3.1. Integration of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

The integration of AR and VR in live streaming is a significant venture in future content delivery. It represents a natural fit for the medium, heightening the experience by providing more immersive interactions. Twitch has already decided to throw its hat into the AR arena, using it to create a more interactive experience with its audience. They have introduced stream overlays that allow viewers to change the environment of the streamers’ game through a simple voting system. The users are presented with a choice of two or more options and the one with the most votes is then applied to the game in real-time. An example of this would be changing the weather in a game from sunny to rain, or adding obstacles for the player to overcome. This creates a more direct form of viewer interaction, involving them in the decision-making process and essentially changing the way the game is being played. This feature is something that has been done with relative success on mobile games through services like Perk and it’s great to see it being applied to a wider range of games on the Twitch platform. Another interesting application of AR can be seen from a company called Aryzon which has developed an AR headset that is made entirely out of cardboard and aims to provide users with a cheaper alternative to the more expensive AR and VR headsets currently on the market. They are already looking into the possibility of enabling AR live streaming through their headset and should they succeed, this could be a huge step in the right direction for the widespread use of AR technology.

Enhanced User Experience through Interactive Features

More interactive features are also good for education live streaming events. Many educators and students want to try online learning using a live streaming system. By applying more interactive features, education events using a live streaming platform can be more fun and comfortable. Educators can do live sharing, Q&A sessions, and even some mini games related to the material to make it more interactive and not feel like a “one-way” communication. The system can also provide a virtual classroom that can make the student feel like they are in a real classroom. By doing this, the live streaming platform can be a good alternative for an education system in this era and can attract more users from educators and students.

A live streaming application with a lot of interactive features will increase the popularity of an event and can increase user participation in the event. User comments, event polling, Q&A sessions, and mini games are examples of interactive features that can be implemented in an event that will be live streamed. Usually, user comments are common things found in every live streaming platform, but other features such as polling, Q&A sessions, and mini games are quite rare. This can be a chance for the live streaming platform to attract more event organizers to use the platform because it offers something different compared to other platforms and can benefit the event host in terms of increasing event popularity and getting more participants.

In this era, everyone wants to finish all the job in a simple way and short time, but at the same time, they want to get the best result. So, the system efficiency is very important. By applying more interactive features in the system, users will feel more comfortable and enjoy using the system.

Enhanced user experience through interactive features can be perceived as a process to increase the experiences that will be received by the user when using the application or system. Interactive features will give impact to user experiences. The application with more interactive features will give a good impact for the system, such as increasing the application user, attracting more users, and focusing on the application compared to others. These things will also increase the efficiency of the system.

Monetization Strategies for Live Streaming Platforms

– Donations and subscription services are one way that live streaming platforms monetize their content. Viewers can donate money to the streamer at any time, usually with a message appearing on the screen. If there is a large donation, there is a special animation and usually a sound that is played. The money is given to the streamer at regular intervals. Subscription services allow viewers to pay a monthly fee to the streamer. In exchange, they get special privileges, such as no advertisements, emoticons that no one else can use, or badges to show how long they have been a subscriber. – Pay-per-view is when viewers pay to watch special content through the live streaming platform. Videos on demand is another example, where streamers upload videos to be watched later, and a viewer pays to watch it.

Integration with Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms have high usage from users, and seeing that there is a growing number of internet users who prefer to stay on social media platforms for various reasons, this integration is vital in tapping into targeted viewers. This also draws people who may chance upon the live stream of games and activities that they might not know of when they are on the live streaming platforms. Watching the live stream, and if it interests the user, might make the user visit the specific live streaming platform more frequently. This type of integration will also help in user retention on the multi-casting live streaming, as the user is more likely to follow the link to find out more about the live streamer and the ability to chat and win prizes offered only on the specific live streaming platform. High user retention will mean higher views.

Live streaming platforms are increasingly being integrated with popular social media platforms. As we have seen earlier in section 2.6 (Multi Casting), technology has given us the ability to multicast. This is done by having the live stream shown on the specific social media platform concurrently. Viewers on the social media platform will be able to see a link or directly view the live stream. This method is effective in drawing users from social media platforms to view live streams on live streaming platforms. An example would be the use of Facebook to send or host a live stream from the computer using twitch.tv.

Future Outlook and Opportunities

Singapore has the fastest internet speeds in the world, as well as a high mobile phone penetration rate and a high digital readiness rank overall. Digitalisation is supported by the government, who aims to lead Singapore into the digital era and create a smart nation. With a rise in digital device usage and awareness of digital media, streaming services and over-the-top (OTT) video content are growing to become more popular. 63% of consumers use streaming services daily in 2014. Although the data is for over-the-top video, it shows that there is a market for streaming services. The youth are also consuming more video content on digital devices. In 2013, the average youth spends 80 minutes per day watching YouTube. YouTube is primarily a video sharing website with a focus on video content. This indicates that media consumption preference is shifting away from traditional TV and towards new forms of digital media, such as live streaming. With the high readiness of digital devices and the internet in Singapore, digital media consumption is becoming second nature to the people. All these factors contribute to creating a strong potential market for live streaming services in the years to come.

This section will explore the potential growth of live streaming in Singapore. It will also discuss the emerging technologies and their impact on live streaming, and look at the regulatory framework and legal considerations involved.

Potential Growth of Live Streaming in Singapore

Coupled with a burgeoning gaming industry, the burgeoning success of local streamers has cultivated a community of enthusiasts. Popular local streamer and former eSports professional Daryl “iceiceice” Koh recently signed with the international organization Evil Geniuses, reinforcing the idea that gaming as a form of entertainment has evolved and broken cultural barriers. The occurrence of community events and the establishment of professional leagues serve to create more compelling content for the average viewer to tune into. With a more engaging array of content, it is expected that the potential viewer base will increase as an outcome.

Spearheaded by a substantial improvement in internet speeds and plans for nationwide implementation of 5G technology by 2025, the infrastructure for various streaming services in Singapore has been solidified. As a testament to this, the number of local streamers on global platforms such as Twitch has increased significantly. Recognizing the potential in the market, more streaming platforms are becoming active in Singapore, with one example being Bilibili, a China-based entertainment platform.

Emerging Technologies and Their Impact

However, bandwidth is still a critical issue as the majority of Singaporeans access the internet through narrowband connections. With the introduction of ADSL and decrease in broadband prices, streaming will become more accessible to the masses. Wireless technologies are also improving considerably, and it may not be long before mobile devices are able to stream high-quality audio and video at any location. This could have a huge effect on the way people access information. An example would be students receiving lectures from their professors at any location. This would provide an alternative way for distance learning. High-quality streams require high bandwidth. With more people having access to greater bandwidth, a higher quality stream can be delivered. High-quality video and audio streams have a bigger impact on viewers and can be said to be a more effective medium for communication.

Live streaming technology is currently at its early stage in Singapore. Faster internet speeds and rising mobile usage among consumers have helped drive the growth in streaming. Even with the increasing popularity of streaming, the full potential has yet to be reached. The majority of the current streams available are in audio or video on-demand format; live/real-time streaming has yet to be fully utilized. An example would be the recent General Election in which there was a live results page; however, the results were updated manually. This could have been done by providing a live results stream.

Regulatory Framework and Legal Considerations

In line with the amendment to the Public Entertainments Act to better reflect the evolving media landscape, regulatory requirements for a public entertainment event will be extended from just a physical location to also cover events that are streamed or broadcasted to the general public. Although the law will not be enforced on individuals who are creating content for non-business or non-commercial purposes, it will affect gamers, YouTubers, and live streamers who are providing these services as a form of job or business. A public consultation with the industry has been held and it is generally felt that these changes are positive measures to professionalize the industry and to minimize the potential social impact of content that is broadcasted to the general public. Individuals providing a public entertainment event will be required to apply for a new class license for providers and will have to adhere to regulations on performance and content. This would mean that they would be required to self-rate their content and to prevent event classification disputes, MDA will provide a list of general guidelines on the various content ratings.

Construction of a regulatory framework governing media content and censorship by MDA and the announcement of class licensing for video-on-demand services by IMDA will inadvertently affect the live streaming industry, given that most live streamers are semi-professionals or hobbyists and are unlikely to be fully aware of the legal obligations provided in these laws. Broadcasters found to have breached the content standards in the Broadcasting Act will not be able to rely on their lack of awareness of the regulations as an excuse. Under the new licensing regime, video on demand service providers will be required to be licensed, and their content will be subjected to the same content standards as traditional broadcasters. Services which are easily available through internet access and have a significant impact on consumers or society will be regulated, as the new regime aims to create a more level playing field between traditional and new media.

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