The global phenomenon of video streaming apps and how Korea is leading the way
From Hollywood to Seoul, apps delivering live streaming content have seen tremendous growth. People worldwide are eager to watch more and more video on their mobile devices, even if they have to pay for it.
Korean live streaming platforms are growing faster every year, making the space more dynamic. Revenue in Korea’s video streaming segment is projected to reach $1.13 billion in 2022.
Korea has one of the most fiercely contested entertainment markets, and the new streaming services advanced the total number of paid streaming video subscriptions to 14.7 million at the end of March.
Outside of entertainment, Korean live-streaming platforms have grown exponentially. Esports and gaming have become more popular through streaming.
Top live streaming apps in Korea
- BIGO LIVE
- Hakuna Live
Live streaming entertainment is continuing to grow globally. Modern brands are adding live streaming elements to their apps to increase retention and sales.
However, when it comes to content preferences for each market, it can help to take a look at live streaming trends, the most popular streamers and content, and the most popular live streaming apps.
In-app live streaming made easy.
Globally, different markets lean towards different content types with a demand for niche content
While video streaming is growing rapidly everywhere, the global market is fragmented due to different content preferences and guidelines of content providers and distributors. We especially see this varying trend in the Asian market, where the types of services are diversified, and many more innovative video streaming apps are rising.
- In the USA, the most popular video streaming services are Movies and Sports content and cable TV providers expand their territory to take off in the mobile space.
- In Korea, the most popular content types are free-to-air media content (TV broadcasting content, typically dramas and television shows), OTT (Over the top) video services provided by IPTV and Cable TV service providers and live-streaming shows where audiences are often interacting with the video jockeys.
- In Korea, you will find that the interactive nature of live-streaming video and offering unique content is an evolving trend. This is due to the emergence of many new apps, the demand for niche content such as eSports, Meokbang (which is live-streaming while eating a large meal and interacting with their audience) and user-created live-streaming content hosted by video jockeys.
Competitive dynamics between free-to-air broadcasters (e.g. NBC in the US) and OTT video providers (e.g. Korean Netflix)
In Korea, people’s preference for free-to-air content like popular dramas and TV shows is so high that Korean television networks such as KBS, EBS, MBC and SBS came together as a consortium and created the N-Screen platform called POOQ.
However, due to the rapidly growing trend of cord-cutting and cable TV companies’ heavy involvement in content creation, more and more people started enjoying Cable TV content on their mobile devices. That led Cable TV/IPTV content providers to expand their business into OTT video services (such as LG U Plus’ LTE Video portal, Oksusu provided by SK Telecom and TVING by CJ Hellovision).
The winning formula for live streaming apps: Unique content combined with interactive communication
Creating a popular live-streaming app requires unique content, features, and a frictionless user experience.
Let’s take a look at South Korea: a leader in Asia’s rapidly growing live streaming space.
AfreecaTV (short for “Any FREE broadCAsting”) is one great example of the success of live streaming in Korea. AfreecaTV started on the web in 2006 and secured broadcasting rights to personalities, content creators, and sporting events. However, AfreecaTV’s unique and most popular content comes from its live streams of jockeys eating (called “Meokbang” in Korean) while interacting with their viewers.
The key ingredient to AfreecaTV’s success revolves around its interactive platform. The rising number of solo diners can now have company to talk to while eating, and users can even send the jockeys “star balloons” that can be redeemed for real cash. Now many jockeys are making a living live streaming, and the app has been in the top 10 downloads in Korea for the past year.
The success of AfreecaTV influenced many other companies to launch their live streaming apps such as SK Telecom’s Hotzil and Pikicast Live. Hotzil’s app has channels on music, beauty, education, gaming and entertainment hosted by famous online personalities. They produce, promote, and manage the creation of their video content and monetize via advertising revenue.
Pikicast is the most successful social curation media platform in Korea. It selects the best media content and broadcasts it on its mobile app or social media network with over 6 million monthly active users. Pikicast announced its real-time broadcasting service, Pikicast Live, in May 2016, which allows their broadcasting jockeys to live stream content while interacting with their audience via live chat.
Live streams of people gaming similar to Twitch.tv is also very popular in Korea, with one of the most popular apps being NEXON. They live broadcast their eSports leagues throughout the world such as FIFA online 3 tournament, Cartrider, and Counter Strike while also providing interactive communication within the app.
Content preferences vary globally, but video streaming combined with interactive messaging is the key
All around the world, video streaming apps are growing. Whether you are watching your favorite sports team, TV show, or social media star, interacting with people while watching live streaming videos has proven to increase engagement, downloads, and views.
Integrating in-app messaging is crucial to increasing engagement, retention, usage time, and monetization. Luckily, integrating these features isn’t as difficult as it used to be.
Some services, such as Sendbird make it really easy to integrate in-app and live messaging (in as little as 5 minutes) with Chat API which has features readily available for video streaming services. In fact, almost all of the Korean video streaming apps mentioned above have integrated in-app messaging or live chat using Sendbird’s SDK and API.