Chinese live-streaming app LiveMe is betting on its content studios in India to generate more local videos and help it make money in a country where online video consumption is growing rapidly thanks to low data charges.
LiveMe, operated by Chinese utility and content app maker Cheetah Mobile Inc., entered India in May last year after gaining success in its home market and other countries such as the US, Japan and Indonesia. The app now considers India its second-largest market after the US.
In April this year, LiveMe set up three studios in the country to work with local talent on the platform. The studios--in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru--run two to eight live shows every day, says Johnny Wu, regional director for the Indian and European market at LiveMe.
The studios have helped LiveMe get interviews with top actors such as Shahid Kapoor, Ayushman Khurana and Saif Ali Khan. The app has also associated with movies like Khurana's Badhaai Ho, Khan's Baazaar and Kapoor's Batti Gul Meter Chalu, Wu told TechCircle.
To be sure, LiveMe isn't the only one of its kind in India and nor is its plan to develop local content unique.
As online video consumption grows in India, over-the-top video content providers are stepping up efforts to grab a greater share of the market.
Global video-streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are investing in developing local content in the country while a number of new apps offer user-generated short videos.
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Star India's Hotstar compete in the TV series and movies segments. LiveMe offers short videos that are often generated by users themselves.
LiveMe's direct competitors in India include Bigo Live, Xiaomi- and Sequoia-backed Samosa Labs, Matrix Partners- and Shunwei Capital-backed Clip, and Chinese technology company ByteDance-owned TikTok. Live.me, too, had raised $50 million from ByteDance last year.
These video apps have a strong case for local language users as the audience for online video consumption is projected to grow from 225 million in 2018 to 550 million in 2023, according to a report by IMC-KPMG.
LiveMe's three Indian studios have so far allowed 30 people to showcase their talents, said Wu. He said the app's daily active user base has increased after it added live shows.
Wu didn't disclose the number of users the app has in India. According to a September report by tech news website FactorDaily, LiveMe had about 13 million downloads in India and about 75% of its users access the app every day.
The app selects people to showcase their talents on its platform through auditions in college and other initiatives. People who are selected to perform can earn Rs 4,000 per show if they have at least 50,000 followers. This also helps LiveMe create high-quality content which can be publicised across different social media platforms such as Instagram and Youtube.
Jagmeet Singh, business development manager at LiveMe who was also one of the people picked by the platform to showcase his talent, said that the app has created properties across six segments: Bollywood, comedy, entertainment, sports, music and dance. The app broadcasts shows of 30 minutes each between 5 pm and 11 pm, he said.
For now, the app is investing in creating content for 16- to 34-year olds. The app hasn't monetised these shows yet but is moving in that direction.
As of now, viewers can send their appreciation as 'lollipops' or 'diyas' to the performers. These are in-app purchases made by users through credit or debit cards from which LiveMe takes a commission that can be as low as 1%. The recipient can encash these gifts for money.
Wu said this model of monetisation via gifts is a first for LiveMe as it hasn't attemped this in any other country. The app is also in touch with music partners and brands for tie-ups.
“In the future, we might look for partnerships with brands. But, as of now, we are completely focusing on building content on our platform,” he said.