TechAn In-depth Analysis of Live Streaming Apps for Singaporean Users

An In-depth Analysis of Live Streaming Apps for Singaporean Users

1. Introduction

Our analysis will be conducted on the top ten apps in Singapore, ranked by inaugural download numbers in the Apple Store and in the Google Store for the apps from the selected companies: Bigo (Bigo Technology), Uplive by Asia Innovations (HK) Limited (one pioneer company from Hong Kong), USA app (, and Yizhibo by Hangzhou Hei Yi Network Co., Ltd. (U.S. app and China app). The paper is organized as follows: the next section introduces the existing live streaming app studies. We then proceed to share our research question, followed by the research design, data collection, and analysis. We conclude by presenting the findings.

User data is the main ingredient of any data-driven application. In the case of live streaming apps, this takes the form of multimedia feeds, shared amongst the app users. Our data collection efforts for this study will focus primarily on app-generated live stream text comments, as well as video frame analysis. This will enable us to not only gather user content and interact information from the apps but also shape a picture of the reactions of app users to the shared content.

In China, the use of the applications for this purpose has even led to the coinage of a new term, “live show”. In Singapore, a small but affluent Asian city-state, live streaming applications are arriving. In this paper, we analyze the current crop of live streaming apps where the content is shared by users in Singapore and other countries, for the purposes of characterizing the differences between these Hong Kong, U.S., and Chinese companies, which can help us understand the similarities and differences in the apps corporations, as well as supporting the definition of potential application deployment strategies to these user groups.

Live stream service are not new; they have been around for a while. Nonetheless, the recent years have seen a surge in the number of applications featuring this capability. Besides entertainment purposes, live streaming apps are also being used as an additional source of income by ordinary people in many countries, by sharing their daily lives and being paid by advertisers.

1.1. Background of Live Streaming Services

Who would have thought watching someone playing games live could have become a lucrative income source? Today, we do not just live stream gameplay, but also other forms of entertainment such as beauty and dance tutorials, or more surprisingly, live streaming of almost anything from one’s everyday life. Also known as real-time interactive transmission, live streaming involves transmitting or receiving data over audio or video in real time. Live streaming Singapore has gained increasing popularity in recent years due to the accessibility of high-speed internet and the development of electronic devices with stronger computing capabilities, making services smoother and enabling creators to interact with worldwide viewers in real time. Commercialization of live streaming enables creators to earn income from tips, sponsorship, and commission from selling merchandise related to their content. Recently, there has been an increase in the usage of live streaming services globally and within Singapore. However, the characteristics of live streaming applications (henceforth apps) and the demographics of local users are rarely explored. Therefore, the current study aims to provide a systematic review of the in-depth characteristics of live streaming apps preferred by Singapore users.

2. Popular Live Streaming Apps in Singapore

In this study, we would like to understand the popular live streaming app in Singapore by conducting an online survey among Singaporeans and foreigners living in Singapore. This research paper emphasizes the popular live streaming app in Singapore, a brief overview of the most popular apps from the rest of the world, and the operational hours of these apps. After conducting the survey, it was found that more than 200 people have actually used a live streaming app before. Appealingly, data from the survey could indicate some motivations for using live streaming.

Singaporeans spending more time on smartphones is no falsehood, as people no longer use it exclusively for communication purposes. Instead, it’s becoming an entertainment device. The recent enormous growth in popularity and use of several live streaming applications does show a potential rise in a new genre of performing artists. However, despite the rising popularity, live streaming has attracted little established interest. It is therefore essential to investigate why live streaming is popular among users, how these users use live streaming, and what they gain from it. Consequently, understanding the actual use and implications of live streaming is critical.

2.1. App 1: Features and User Experience

The most popular app at the time of the experiment which stood at the top of the list was TikTok. Next, we describe the user experience and the features of the rest of the apps. The app is a beauty cam app where users film a video and they are able to add different effects to their faces to improve the quality of the video being presented. The users we found in the app were predominantly from Asia. We chose a user to analyze and realized that he had a Japanese ID. The user experience and features in the app are described below.

In this section, a comprehensive analysis of the user experience and the features of live streaming apps popular in Singapore is conducted. The analysis is divided into four sections, where each section focuses on a different live streaming app. The live streaming apps were randomly chosen from the rankings in the entertainment category of the Apple Store. After registering in the app through a Singaporean cellular phone, users had access to all of the features in-store and were able to experience and use all of the features provided. Each user’s interactions on every feature were explored in detail. The analysis revealed the real-time popularity of the app, the significance of the identification process of the streamer, the direct interactions between the user and the streamer, product placements, and how to create a community of members by offering different benefits. These features are never present in present over the top (OTT) services such as Netflix, Amazon, and others.

2.2. App 2: Features and User Experience

YouTube live broadcast was not available for the smallest participants group (five people) as no phone in their group supported live broadcast and the participants did not have periphery devices like selfie sticks or tripods. Instead, they had to hold their phone in their hands by taking turns, making the broadcast very unstable. The IPAP school tour broadcast by four people was very popular with people at the school because the app could interact with viewers by giving “live” responses when viewers posted comments (or any other feedback) to the broadcast. The “live” responses helped to answer questions and gave responses like “Tell us what you think” and “Let us know who are watching.” The tour guides also asked viewers to follow them on Instagram and Facebook at the start and at the end of the broadcast. They also replied to comments that suggested the broadcasting audio was unclear by saying they would find a solution to improve audio quality at the start of the next broadcast from another location. Notably, no privacy concern was discussed during the test, although two requests for participants to be shown on the broadcast from Singapore users were not granted.

3. Comparison of Key Features

Live streaming applications are popular in Singapore. Several live streaming applications have been developed by the East and West to cater to users’ needs. Facebook Live and Instagram Live were invented by Western countries, which are the USA, and introduced to a global audience who are used to the functionalities of its live streaming application. On the contrary, 17 Live and Periscope were created by the East, Chinese, and introduced to users who are used to the functionalities of their live streaming application. Even though all four live streaming apps look almost the same to us, are the interfaces of these applications designed and developed to cater to Singaporeans’ social needs and habits in the best possible way? All the comparisons done in this paper are depicted based on the officially released live streaming apps for all four individual platforms: Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram Live, and 17 Live. They are all accessed individually and installed through the App Store through an Apple iPhone. All the comparisons done are to educate and bring the knowledge to Singaporean users living in Singapore.

This section presents the comparative analysis of the four live streaming applications: Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram Live, and 17 Live. Several key features such as audience interaction modes, commenting mechanism, and privacy settings are discussed in this paper. The advantages and disadvantages and some user experience issues of these features for Singaporean users are also presented. All the user flows, user experiences, and other findings mentioned relating to the key features mentioned in this section are derived from the data collection through video inspections and walkthroughs performed on 24-30 October 2018, to check out how these earlier introduced Chinese and Western Live Streaming applications cater to Singaporeans’ needs during our study. The detailed results and the data can be accessed through the online video folder link.

3.1. User Interface and Navigation

Undoubtedly, when the UI of a live streaming app is convenient, the quality of the live shows will definitely improve. Reflecting on this statement, 3 main design areas emerged from the equal importance of the content creator, viewer, and potential business opportunities. The content creator can attract more followers, maintain the recorded live shows, or earn money from live shows with a lower navigation barrier. The ever-increasing content creators, viewers, and potential business opportunities in the live streaming industry are giving rise to research interest in the areas of UI and navigation of live streaming platforms. However, the existing studies related to the UI and navigation of live streaming platforms mainly focused on the interactive or reward effects on the platform or how the engagement comment satisfies the psychological needs of the people who watch live streaming. As for the UI or navigation of a live streaming app, no one has evaluated every stage of the content creators with an extended understanding.

This section focuses on the discussions of user interface (UI) and navigation of live streaming platforms through the analysis of 15 live streaming apps by using the Nielsen’s Ten Usability Heuristics. For further in-depth analysis, 3 main design areas emerged, due to their immense importance to the ever-increasing content creators, viewers (or followers of the special broadcasters), and potential business opportunities where the optimal UI of a live streaming app makes it less difficult for the content creator to navigate, maintain, and attract more followers. Furthermore, the content creator can also earn money from live shows as well.

3.2. Monetization Options

The form of the rewards varies from app to app. They could give bandwidth privileges, offer larger shares of the platform’s ad revenue, or have promotions and more visibility on the platform.

Typically, the top-ranked broadcasters can expect to generate significant primary and secondary income. Broadcasters may gain KickBack rewards offered by live streaming broadcasting apps. KickBack is a part of the profit earned by the performers, and the broadcaster receives part or all of the profits earned from this in the form of virtual gifts. However, only selected broadcasters and specific live streaming schedules are supported, which encourages the broadcasters to gather a high number of viewers, ensuring that the gift income of the broadcasters is higher at certain times.

Another form of monetization is the reward system. With the reward system, live streaming apps require users to have enough virtual items to reward broadcasters who gain sufficient audience attention. The broadcasters will then earn a share of the platform’s advertising revenue.

Virtual gifting allows users to pay actual money and buy virtual gifts to give to broadcasters in the form of virtual coins, which can be turned into cash. Virtual gifts are rewarded with a ratio lower than 1:1, and users often feel more willing to send virtual gifts to the broadcaster to show support, respect, or to stand out and be noticed by them.

Currently, most live video streaming apps have supplemented different monetization options, including in-app purchases, virtual gifting, and sharing advertising revenue with broadcasters. With in-app purchases, users pay for purchasing virtual items that they can provide to the broadcasters. Virtual items represent a way for the audience to support their favorite broadcasters.

4. Privacy and Security Considerations

Many commercial organizations often gather private personal information about their users. This knowledge has put users at odds because they are focusing on the organizations that need the expertise of users (e.g., businesses that help people find wireless or other end-user access, businesses that can determine technology tendencies that can be fulfilled to benefit end users). Automatic Systems have long been viewed as a surveillance tool, designed and executed to screen individuals on the Internet, check their movements, and intercept their digital communications. On the other hand, confidential personal information is vulnerable to security breaches and can be exposed to adverse effects, such as unauthorized access to private information, authentication breaches, and so forth. Prior studies have demonstrated people’s serious concerns about disclosing private data and talked about the potential to find innovative techniques to collect or share information without sacrificing users’ privacy. With the advancement of mobile technologies, Chinese Internet privacy standards and guidelines have been created. In summary, digital privacy (DP) is enabled by technology (typically some form of cryptography) that allows people to protect their personal data, be it during a transaction or as it moves from one storage place to another. Digital privacy is enabled by technology, and the lack of it is attributable to the abuse of authority. To discourage users from taking part in a society activity using a cell phone, distorting the value of citizen-provided tracking information implies a more general, society-wide battle about the level of surveillance.

Privacy and security concerns have pervasively influenced people’s behavior and attitudes toward information systems. At the current moment, people using smartphones are more and more aware of the fact that their personal information can easily go astray due to various security vulnerabilities of mobile networks and the control of organizations on personal information. Privacy is the quintessence of individuals’ security. From a computer science perspective, it is treated as the criterion for information security from the perspective of philosophical-genetic complex. Laws have been established one generation after another to ensure nearly every aspect of life free from such threats, such as the protection of electronic transaction privacy, the guaranteed privacy of email communication, and the wireless user data transmission privacy protection.

5. Conclusion and Future Trends

Given our findings, can we propose a potentially bright line to a company trying to launch a new live streaming service? There has never been a better time to create a live streaming app! According to a Sandvine report, real-time entertainment can yield up to 63% of the traffic with minimal latency. Moreover, services such as gaming and esports are often on the cutting edge of implementations in terms of video quality and latency. Whether you are an established company or a start-up, low-cost services or open-source tools such as FFmpeg give you the building blocks for video processing and delivery at the cost of storage and bandwidth from platforms that focus solely on the customer experience and content distribution network (CDN). Finances might even be simplified by the complex environment created by a mobile carrier that offers the facility. With time, new formats may arise from innovations such as 5G, augmented or virtual reality. If you are successful, advertising or paid subscriptions can lead to a growth in revenue and fund content costs and network infrastructure upgrades. While improved content discovery mechanisms and addressing standout customer experience might help to ensure success.

By investigating the five most widely-used live streaming apps for Singaporean users, this research showed that interestingly, the age, gender, and occupation of active users is quite balanced among these apps. We also found that certain topics, such as food and beverage (F&B), entertainment, and games-related, were highly connected with their active users. On the technical side, we had found that key players in the mobile ecosystem were particularly sensitive to issues such as crash rates, app size, and advertisement invasiveness.

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