China plans to introduce new restrictions on streaming services as part of a campaign to tighten control over the activities of tech companies and increase influence over the content consumed by the country’s youth. This was reported by the Wall Street Journal, citing informed sources.
Chinese authorities are drafting new rules to cap netizens’ daily spend on digital streamer rewards, people familiar with the matter said. Authorities also plan to set a daily limit on how much streamers can get from fans and are considering introducing stricter content censorship.
The number of mobile internet users in China is increasing rapidly and the demand for fresh content is growing accordingly. The China Association of Performing Arts estimated that the country’s streaming market was worth about US$30 billion in 2020.
China’s live streaming services, including ByteDance, Kuaishou Technology and Huya, are used by about 70% of the country’s internet users, according to the China Internet Clearinghouse. In the past year, the services have attracted an audience of 700 million people.
Many online influencers earn commissions on the products they promote, but for many, their primary source of income is donations from fans and virtual gifts, ranging from the equivalent of 15 cents for a virtual beer to over $1,100 for a virtual spaceship. According to sources, the Chinese authorities want to limit the amount of gifts for streamers to 10,000 yuan ($1,570).
In 2020, China’s National Radio and Television Administration required streamers and their fans who give them gifts to register under their real names. At the same time, a ban was introduced for people under the age of 18 to transfer money to streamers and buy gifts.
The new restrictions could seriously hurt Chinese social media companies, which derive most of their revenue from streaming. For example, Huya, which has a platform similar to Amazon’s Twitch, made more than 80% of its total revenue, or about $1.8 billion, from live streaming last year.