May27 , 2024

Exploring the Diversity of Live Streaming Audiences in Singapore

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In recent years, the use of live video streaming has become widespread worldwide and in Singapore. With the increasing number of platforms that host live video broadcasts and the increasing affordability and availability of internet-enabled devices, the usage of live video streaming as a form of social interaction and communication is likely to increase. One popular platform for live video gaming is Twitch.tv, which was reported to be the 4th highest peak traffic site in the USA in 2018. Twitch.tv hosts a wide variety of video game genres and games from different cultures that may or may not be localized into English, for an ever-growing audience that is not restricted to any one country. With no requirements to run a stream and free-of-charge availability for viewers, the service has made it easier for content creators to connect with audiences and easier for potential audiences to access the service. YouTube is a similar platform that hosts live video but also offers video-on-demand, music streaming, and original programming.

Factors Influencing Live Streaming Audience Diversity

In the context of live streaming Singapore, it can be said that the upper class will have a more active participation by expressing opinions in the chat, while the lower class will be more reserved and just be silent observers. Live streamers who are looking for active participation from the audience in terms of discussion and feedback may find it easier to achieve this with viewers of a higher socio-economic status. High SES individuals tend to seek cognitive and entertainment needs in media. This will result in a difference in the type of content preferred if the streamer is targeting different socio-economic classes. High-class individuals will have a preference for cognitive content, while lower-class individuals will have a preference for content of a more light-hearted nature. These differences can serve as a guide to streamers in targeting the specific type of audience they prefer to have.

A study in 2017 had used elitism to explain the nature of public opinion. People of higher status were said to be more articulate and have greater clarity in perceiving their interests. They will form a public opinion with effective and clear judgment. This can lead to the elitism of being more open in expressing their opinions, while the lower class will be more likely to conform to the opinions of the higher class. This will result in the upper class having a stronger voice in public opinion and policy.

Determinant of the diversity of live streaming Singapore audience is the various socio-economic background characteristics of the viewer. Occupation, education, and income have been identified as the most widely used indicators of socio-economic status in the Singapore context. These determinants are powerful tools for audience segmentation. They can be readily used to obtain information on an individual’s occupation and education in a registration form to obtain a detailed profile of the viewer. The job type and industry sector can provide an indication of the economic well-being of an individual and thus their socio-economic status. High-income earners would fall into the upper socio-economic class, while low-income earners would fall into the lower class. Viewers who are students can also be considered to be of a lower socio-economic status; the determination here is that student income is generally quite low. These data can be used to group the audience based on similarity into upper, middle, and lower class.

Cultural Background

The findings from a study conducted by show that audiences from different ethnic groups have varied live streaming usage and preference. Though the study by was targeted at the youth in the respective ethnic groups, similar effects may be assumed for all ages. This assumption is reasonable as the older generation of today are parents to the youth of today and have undergone the same cultural upbringing. This is further explained by the cultural distance theory, which states that communication and acceptance decreases when there is lesser similarity in culture between two individuals. When applied to live streaming audience and content provider, this theory suggests that an audience is more accepting and supportive of a content provider of the same race due to having more in common in terms of culture. This may lead to a higher viewing rate and interaction with the content provider. The inverse can be said for a content provider of different race. In an era where live streaming is highly interactive, a content provider may be discouraged by the lack of audience response and support and may potentially stop providing content. This creates an indirect segregation of content between races. High interaction and response from the same race audience may be misinterpreted as good marketability and success to the content provider. This may lead to the content provider shifting to race-specific content if he or she was not providing so. The end result is the formation of race-specific content due to assumption and perpetuation of maintaining audience interaction and support. This is unhealthy as it creates a deeper cultural rut than what we have today and prevents cultural diffusion between race groups.

Does culture play a big part in the differentiation of live streaming preferences among young adults in Singapore? If yes, in what way and how does it affect their choices. According to cultural diversity in Singapore is prevalent due to the fact that Singapore has an abundant mix of races. There are mainly Chinese, Malays, Indians, and Eurasians. The Chinese form the majority. Most Singaporeans practice their own traditional culture and tend to mix with friends of the same race and common culture. This is seen through the various native language mediums in Singapore’s education system. It is not uncommon to see certain races gathering at certain places where their race-specific cultural events are held. For example, Malays may gather at Geylang Serai to celebrate Hari Raya Puasa. This bond in cultural commonality may lead to an effect of less interaction and understanding towards other races as mentioned by Hang Chang Chie in.

Age and Gender

In terms of broad viewership determinants, age and gender play important roles when considering the composition of the live streaming viewer audience in Singapore. An overwhelming majority of stream viewers of both genders are aged 35 and above. When looking at gender, studies have found that the Singaporean live streaming content space is male-dominated, with viewership ranging from 80% to as high as 95%. In addition, data on gaming video content (GVC) platforms, of which live streaming is a subgenre, provided information on gender and viewership within age brackets. What this shows is that GVC is heavily skewed towards male viewers aged 18 through to 35, peaking at around 90% viewership within the 25-34 age bracket. High male viewership rates relative to females are consistent with studies in western countries on video gaming audiences, often showing around a 2:1 male to female ratio. Considering that the majority of live streaming content in Singapore is gaming-related, it can be inferred that gender rates for live streaming viewership likely correlate with those of gaming content.

Socio-economic Status

In Singapore, SES is most commonly measured using the Singaporean government’s housing development board (HDB) system in which individuals are assigned to public housing of various costs depending on their monthly income. A study revealed that families living in HDB flats of the highest SES were least likely to own a TV, yet spent the most time viewing it. This finding contradicts the assumption that media availability is higher among lower SES groups. Though this research was specific to traditional TV, the authors’ findings provide insight into the potential relationship between live-stream content and SES in Singapore. Higher SES groups may prefer to spend their leisure time viewing various niche streams on topics from politics to cooking, and if SES influences media choice in live-stream as it does for traditional media, these groups may be less likely to view only popular entertainment streams.

In all societies, a person’s socio-economic status (SES) describes their access to economic and social resources, and is often associated with income level, educational achievement, and occupation. SES status has been found to influence media use and choice and therefore may also influence whether a person chooses to live stream content, and if so, what kind of content they choose to view. suggest that the degree of availability and the type of media content individuals expose themselves to is affected by their SES, and this pattern is likely to be replicated in live-stream media.

Implications of Audience Diversity for Live Streaming Platforms

The most successful content is that which appeals to all, such as the globally popular e-sport of DotA. This was the only game title in our dataset which drew a near-even split of the 3 major ethnicities. Such universal content is ideal for a platform with diverse audiences.

For some streamers, it may be a wise decision to isolate and target a specific audience. This is not recommended for a platform looking to maximize revenue through a large and diverse viewer base, but for an individual, it may be more important to attract and maintain a specific viewer group. An example is a group of Indian university students who produced a talk show-style DotA broadcast. It was a great success within their target audience but did not significantly expand to viewers of other ethnicities. This type of content is more appropriate for a homogeneous viewer demographic and would not be beneficial for a group looking to reach a wider audience.

Through an analysis of popular live stream content in Singapore, we see some content that appeals to a specific ethnic group yet does not draw viewers of other backgrounds. An example would be Chinese language game casters, who typically only draw Chinese viewers. However, with the right content and language, there is potential to draw a much larger audience. It was observed that a few casters were able to draw a significant Malay and Indian audience despite the language barrier. One such caster who played Malay music during his streams managed to attract Malay viewers despite speaking primarily in Mandarin. This shows that with some consideration and effort, it is possible to appeal to a diverse audience, and the implications of doing so are great.

One of the primary challenges facing a platform with diverse audiences is content creation and curation. It is important to create content that is engaging, relevant, and interesting to a wide array of viewers. However, given the extreme range of interests and cultural backgrounds of potential viewers, this can be a very difficult task.

Content Creation and Curation

Finally, content creators must not overlook the needs of the disabled who, on their own, form a diverse group with a varied range of different needs and preferred content types. As with disabled-friendly web design, we suggest adopting a similar approach to creating disabled-friendly content. This may involve creating sign language interpreted events or providing audio description for the blind during live-streamed programming.

For certain niche audiences such as the foreign worker community, special consideration would be needed to create content that is specifically targeted at these groups. An example would be the creation of structured live-streamed events such as sports competitions or talent shows, which can help to boost viewership, participation, and social capital.

It is also anticipated that mature audiences or families with children may prefer wholesome content. This presents a lot of potential for content creators to reach out to a family audience who would be likely to tune into live stream events together. Wholesome content should also sit well with the conservative majority as opposed to more controversial or risqué content that would be more suited for targeted niche audiences.

As the more technologically savvy students and younger working adults are likely to form a large part of the audience, educational content will also be in demand. The use of live-streamed tutorials or science shows themed at various age groups would serve as educational entertainment and would be well received.

To cater to the diverse audience, content creators need to adopt a multi-pronged approach to content creation. As mentioned in the previous section, Singapore audiences are, on the whole, accustomed to globalized media. This presents an opportune environment for Singapore content creators to create locally flavored content that is able to resonate with an international audience. Such cross-cultural content would be readily accepted by the diverse mix of locals and foreigners and help to bridge the social capital between the two groups.

Marketing and Advertising Strategies

With indirect data suggesting that some Singaporeans may be substituting streaming for Pay TV, the possibility exists that it becomes a flight market with different segments moving from one platform to the other. A longitudinal study of viewing habits could identify such trends early, allowing proactive measures to easily switch the preferences of a given segment. Finally, a cost effective but less direct strategy is to tweak the algorithm which determines the prominence of the platform’s various streams. By orchestrating which segments see the most popular streams, it is possible to give those streams further advantage through a snowball effect. This can continue to be measured using similar techniques to those used at present with a much higher potential gain. High level manipulation of stream prominence may however have negative implications for audience satisfaction and streamers on the other end of the spectrum.

Given the diversity of the Singapore streaming audience, several strategies can help better match the interests of different demographic segments. One approach, inspired by the market segmentation literature, is to identify demographic segments and their related preferences for live stream content. Aligning these with the most popular and profitable streams will be a win-win situation for both streamers and audience. Another approach is to create a strong brand for the live streaming platform, which is in keeping with the preferences of a specific demographic segment. For example, if action-game enthusiasts are a significant segment, the platform interface and iconography should reflect their interests. An advertising strategy here is to use influencer marketing. By selecting the appropriate influencer for a given demographic segment, the platform can quickly gain credibility and visibility with that segment at a modest cost. This contrasts with costly mass media advertising which may not be as effective.

Future Trends in Live Streaming Audience Diversity

Live streaming media has been growing in popularity all over the world, and not much research has been done to understand the diversity in its audience. This paper is our attempt to try and categorize different audiences in Singapore, from race, age, gender, and language, and further attempt to relate these categories to how a person has been socialized in society. In this paper, we will examine the relationship between the live streaming media audience in Singapore and the concept of cultural capital and habitus, as well as try to gain a sense of who comprises these audiences using the four main categories of stratification in Singapore. This is done with the hope of understanding if different individuals from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds in Singapore relate to specific forms of live streaming media, and how this relates to the way in which they have been socialized in society. These findings can be used to get a sense of whether live streaming media has the potential to further fragment the cultural capital of different ethnic groups and stratified classes in Singapore, and if it does, there may be implications in terms of social cohesion in an increasingly digital world. It can also provide an understanding for corporations who want to use live streaming media as a platform for marketing, in terms of what kinds of individuals their products are most likely to associate with.