Bigo Live: A growing sensation in an industry with a big appetite

The live-streaming industry has seen a massive growth in years. From the likes of Vimeo to Facebook Live, the industry has grown to include content creators worldwide creating a diverse range of content and it’s no different in Malaysia.

One particular platform that has been gaining traction in recent years, Bigo Live has accumulated 400 million users in over 150 countries worldwide, making it one of the leading live streaming platforms in the industry.

“In Malaysia, we have seen over 20% growth in the number of Bigo Live users and are set to recruit around 3,000 to 5,000 new hosts. As a result, we could see up to 30,000 content creators in Malaysia live on our platform by the end of the year,” says Neil Xiong, Country Manager, Bigo Live Malaysia.

With the arrival of Covid-19, Bigo Live noticed a global increase in the usage of the platform and Malaysia was no exception to those changes, as work-from-home practice was enforced along with the Movement Control Order (MCO) in March.

“We faced a truly unique situation this year as Covid-19 related restrictions kept people apart. As physical interactions were actively discouraged, as a result, people around the world were turning to virtual interactions because it is a comparatively safe way to connect without risking their health,” said Xiong.

The platform, first established in 2014, made its mission and vision to connect the world and become a content platform that aimed to inspire one billion people’s lives and has since seen a rising popularity, attributed to uses discovering that live streaming can be an alternative avenue of entertainment.

“We noticed that the timing of the spike in demand for live-streaming coincided with the widespread adoption of work-from-home (WFH) measures and social distancing guidelines that kept people at home nearly round-the-clock.

“We believe that more people started exhausting their regular entertainment options and started looking for engaging virtual experiences, which was a niche that live-streaming was able to fill,” he added.

As part of their efforts to make Bigo Live a success in Malaysia, Xiong and his team realised the key to success was to localise the platform and content.  “We celebrate local cultures, even in the simplest ways,” he said.

For Ramadan this year, the platform enabled daily prayer reminders for users, which can then be shared on the public in-app feed after checking in. The feed served as a way for Muslims to virtually come together to pray instead of congregating at mosques during the holy month.

Bigo Live has also implemented several initiatives to help curb the spread of the Covid-19. These included informational sessions with medical professionals in the country and across the region as well as virtual cloud clubbing sessions with Malaysia’s renowned homegrown DJs such as DJ Alexis Grace and Tipsy man.

The platform further launched its “Global BIGOer One World Together” fundraising campaign which saw Malaysian content creators participate alongside content creators from around the world in 24-hour live streaming concert to raise funds for the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response fund.

According to Bigo, the fundraiser witnessed 3.7 million viewers come together to raise over US$100,000.

The platform has also seen a diverse and dedicated content creators from all walks of life use BIGO Live to attract a range of audiences.

Personalities such as as Hongyan (Chong Nyuk Kiang), Khinyo (Zeng Jing Kai) and Angeline (Angeline Tan Cher Hui) were exposed to tarot reading and to fortune telling in their formative schooling years and through Bigo Live, they have been able to turn a casual hobby into a full-time passion, while guiding many users along the way.

Bigo Live hosts Khinyo does tarot reading and fortune telling on their livestreams

“One of the truly standout stories here, was Jaysung’s who began his Bigo Live journey when the platform first launched in the Malaysian market in 2016, using it mainly as a social platform. He began to live stream all sorts of self-created content of himself singing, acting and hosting in-app events.

Bigo Live host Jaysung has successfully led his Family to achieve the top 1 spot in Malaysia

“Over time, he realised that being a Bigo Live host in Malaysia would allow him to generate a decent income, thus, he became a professional host in 2017, achieving great leaderboard results and rankings,” Xiong shared with BusinessToday.

Jaysung has since been given the opportunity to lead a Family. A Family in Bigo Live resembles an organisation that manages hosts – similar to an agency – and provides additional services to help them improve themselves as content creators. He then went from being self-employed and earning RM3,000 per month to now enjoying an income of over USD$10,000 per month at the tender age of 28.

And as for the future, Xiong believes the more Malaysians will be engaged in watching online video content and livestreams due to the rapid emergence of new technologies and the local shift towards online media consumption. Bigo also plans to build upon these successful initiatives to create more educational and entertaining content through live streaming

“We are constantly working to identify new growth opportunities her as we want to continue growing our user base,” he concluded.

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