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The Impact of Live Streaming Services on the Media Industry: A Case Study of Singapore

1. Introduction

Since the late 2000s, the development of digitally streamed content has been assisted in the context of news, broadcasting, and entertainment. The conglomeration of youthful audiences consumed the first high-quality, professionally-produced shows for the emerging medium, which consisted of user-generated content whose format was focused on the 24-hour news cycle. As a consequence, cost-effective business models of digitally streamed news content have emerged, sparking up campaigning that is forcing both the publishers and providers of traditional news media to undertake cost-cutting measures. The authors argue that over the past decade, there has been a growing impetus of different sources of content through digital and internet-based platforms, particularly video, social media, OTT, SVoD, and the latest social content feeds. With this, the line that traditionally separates streams and providers has been blurred, making it more difficult to quantify the differences and similarities in the distinctive obligations and quality of streamed content in comparison to the responsibilities of mainstream broadcasters. If digital news content is systematically looked at, certain limitations are observable as to the best practices model of streaming in terms of the value and exclusivity of streamed news content.

As an increasing number of viewers use live streaming services to bypass advertisements while watching movies, it is believed that the advertising models currently adopted by traditional television and digital media will become obsolete. Taking Singapore as a case study, this article examines the impact of live streaming platforms on the local media industry, current regulatory frameworks that apply to live streamers, and potential solutions to support the sustainability of the local television industry. It is crucial for both the media industry and the government to work together to examine the challenges and propose different practical steps to ensure the sustainability of the current broadcast television model while catering to the needs and behavior of online consumers.

1.1. Background and Significance of Live Streaming Services

This chapter begins with a brief examination of Singapore’s media industry and the worldwide trend of media digitization. Next, several categories of live streaming services are distinguished. Subsequently, a scan of the associated professional media feeding and nurturing ecosystem establishes that live streaming potential has been previously recognized for celebrities in sports and entertainment. This study looks beyond these personalities to demonstrate the potential of live streaming to enable stakeholders in the live entertainment industries to receive the most up-to-date information. Live broadcasts have more persuasive power in delivering information.

The several dedicated OTT (Over-the-Top) live streaming services are now revolutionizing the TV and movie business model. More than simply offering replays of offline content or services where user-generated video content can be live streamed to followers, the dedicated OTT live streaming services leverage communities of performers and fans to promote mutual fandom. Enthusiasts gain pleasure from live streaming first-run professional content created for them. The OTT live streaming platforms ensure the ecosystem is sustainable by giving performers the ability to sell virtual goods with established patterns of reward and recognition. Consequently, live streamers now manage artistically or vocationally focused commerce. They no longer need to depend on models supporting off-stream consummation of goods and services. This paper demonstrates how live streaming provides an artistically and vocationally satisfying outlet for creative potential and concludes with a case study discussing the legal and regulatory implications of live streaming services, particularly in Singapore.

2. The Growth of Live Streaming in Singapore

The number of live streaming Singapore has multiplied in the past two years. Two common ones are Bigo and 17 Live, which originated in Asia. The extensive use of high-speed mobile and Wi-Fi connections means that easy access to live show channels has become part of daily life. Live stream service are now generally popular worldwide. According to data from Sensor Tower, mobile users spent 23% more time streaming live video on apps in 2018 than they did in 2017. A large part of that growth was driven by the success of Amazon’s Twitch, a platform for live streaming video games, which saw a 34% increase in app revenue. But there’s also evidence of rising consumer interest in categories outside of gaming, with apps focused on streaming to a general audience or simply to anyone who cares to tune in having grown by an average of nearly 5% year-over-year. In this context, we define “live streaming services” as periods during which individuals broadcast and communicate with each other. This type of service is different from social networking or other related services. It is reasonable to assume that the increasing number of live streaming fans worldwide simply wants to have fun and maintain close communication using different platforms. Our research focuses on BigoTV because it is a live streaming service that debuted in this part of Asia. Since launching its app in March 2016, the team targets teenagers (18 or younger) and the youth market (over 18) in different directions, offering a variety of real-time interactive live services through apps over the Internet with its unique selling points. Sparking user interest is the main attraction of BigoTV and commercial promotion of events.

2.1. Key Players and Platforms

In Singapore, Viu, iQiyi, HBO, and Netflix have substantial video library assets and large viewer bases and are comprehensive multi-faceted streaming services. They have offices in Singapore and/or employ Singapore marketing and public relations agencies. StarHub has a large customer base and is a telco-service plus platform offering four video streaming services: HBO GO, TVB, Code Red, and QIYI. Two other local platforms, Viu Singapore and iQiyi Singapore, have local holding companies and distribute selected video-on-demand streaming services hosted overseas while having separate marketing and public relations agencies employing fewer than ten staff members in Singapore. YouTube is the only non-subscription-based platform. There is a lack of information available about YouTube earnings from Singapore channels. Amazon Prime and Disney+ provide global service to target entertainment specifically. Users in Singapore need to subscribe directly to the streaming services, and although each company has at least one local assistant, the bulk of its services are provided from the headquarters and platforms outside of Singapore.

3. Challenges and Opportunities in the Live Streaming Industry

In the past, uploading a movie in a personal live stream channel or group was more popular than uploading a movie onto P2P websites. But now, with rapid development of streaming technology, both pre-recorded videos and live streaming are rising in popularity. This has also made preventing piracy much harder. Additionally, like some other peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing, real-time streaming is decentralized and not traceable. But while movie content creators do not encourage movie sharing, live streaming of movies is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, live streaming services can help the filmmakers make extra money by running the live movie shows parallel to the physical screening. On the other hand, this will turn movie theaters into non-profitable display halls, as even the lapse time of a few seconds will cause the movie to be uploaded and circulated on illegal websites at zero cost.

Out of all the possible usages of live streaming services, the theft of intellectual property and abuse of services get the most attention. However, the debate around live streaming services should not be limited to the moral and ethical impacts these services have brought about. This article will explore the challenges and opportunities these services bring to society and the economy, using the Hollywood and Hong Kong movie industries, the music industry, the news media, and the rising live stream star phenomenon as case studies. After extensively discussing these topics, this article will conclude with a discussion on the way forward for both society and the live streaming industry.

3.1. Regulatory Challenges

Having identified the regulatory challenges that live streaming services present, and drawing reference to approaches in other countries, this study will now delve into Singapore’s regulations in this context, using a case study approach that attempts to analyze Singapore’s approach to three different types of live streaming service providers.

As with any technological innovation, live streaming services are not without their challenges. Indeed, the instantaneous delivery of content can be seen as a double-edged sword – permitting the timely dissemination of information, yet simultaneously serving as a platform for less savory content. With easy access and the ability to reach a large, and at times, anonymous, audience, unsuitable content can be detrimental and must be managed and regulated. The drain on network resources and the potential for latency and jitter issues created by the live and high bandwidth nature of live streaming technology warrant continued monitoring. At the same time, the very public nature of live streamed content is prone to being exploited by hackers.

4. The Future of Live Streaming Services in Singapore

According to an interview published in The New York Times, Dan Rayburn, a principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan, states that live streaming could potentially take over traditional broadcasting within the next few decades. With more publications covering live event streaming during that period, Rayburn argues that there is a possibility that websites would not need physical addresses as many functions are done and could be done via the Internet, with newscasters present onscreen only for significant news stories. This would create news personalities who are for other major events; if the correspondents are not available, the websites could simply have a photo of that personality for 30 seconds and the internet chat for the rest of the time, while other stories are covered.

The availability and accessibility of live streaming services have grown immensely over the past few years, especially in Singapore. There once was a time when live streaming was almost non-existent. Given the current trend of many businesses providing 24-hour call-center support services, products marketed as sleep aids, and a public that falls into hush-mode the moment a flickering blue screen appears at the baggage boutiques at our airports or the moment an accident is reported on the radio—24-hour live streaming services offering a variety of ‘shows’ can easily be understood as meeting the local community needs by creating jobs for existing talent, opening up a new career path in the media industry, creating a demand and supply platform, producing evergreen content, improving talent, and encouraging more realistic, futuristic, funny, and safe behaviors, in a colorless, genderless, for all age and type of local society. This article covers the basics of live streaming services, narrates all the live streaming platforms that were and currently present in Singapore, and finally concludes with the issues, opportunities, and what the immediate future holds for the media industry.

4.1. Emerging Technologies and Trends

4.2. 5G as it relates to live streaming services 5G networks are expected to be launched in 2020. Its arrival is eagerly awaited because of its speed, short latency, pervasive coverage, simultaneous connectivity, and support for myriad IoT devices. Sectors that have been identified as likely beneficiaries of 5G include healthcare, transportation, and telecoms. It has been said that fixed network operators may be fighting a losing battle against 5G. In contrast, its impact on mobile network operators is expected to be positive. Furthermore, there is speculation that 5G may not prevent the dominance of OTTs of the Internet because network operators are not masters of their own destinies with regard to app development.

As mentioned earlier, the broadcasting industry is highly sensitive to emerging technologies and trends. Broadcasters frequently upgrade their infrastructure and services so that audiences are able to enjoy better visual and aural experiences and less downtime. The ongoing convergence between the telecommunications, entertainment, and technology industries has given rise to new services such as linear and non-linear broadcasting services, video-on-demand, media on demand, and over-the-top services. Advances in compression technologies have given broadcasters the ability to transmit more audio-visual content in radio spectrum and over-the-top services. Improvements in digital storage and computing technologies have reduced non-linear broadcasting service production costs.

5. Conclusion and Recommendations

3) The research establishes the direct relationships between media habits, attitudes toward novelty seeking, and live streaming usage. The present research also complements existing uses and gratifications studies by integrating the uses and gratifications of mass communication. In doing so, research uncovers new insights and helps to explain young consumers’ use of live streaming services. The internet allows people to explore and find new sources of enjoyment, which enables them to leave consumption of the same internet realm and acquire joy from transitory events.

2) Existing studies argue that issues related to costs are of increased importance when it comes to entertainment consumption, whilst new studies have suggested that consumers also have a high need for connectedness and belonging. In other words, entertainment views can also be described as the communal consumption of popular content such as movies or popular storylines. This research will aim to understand this, in order to elaborate on the demand for social interactions with live streaming services. It examines in depth what factors may drive people’s participation in live streaming.

1) The research extends the uses and gratifications theory in understanding the factors influencing live streaming. Even though live streaming platforms deliver new user experiences by providing a wide range of content, such as watching live broadcasts of events, webcasting, and videos, the findings of this study show that these services should provide young users with various utilities such as collaboration and fostering relationships that are informed by goal-based, function-based, and interaction-based gratifications.

This research will adopt conclusions that have been made in previous research and adapt them to the Singapore media industry. Future research can explore further into the impact of live streaming services on content creators and consumer behavior.

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