BROAD­CAST­ING BE­YOND

Chi­nese live-broad­cast plat­forms ex­pand­ing into Belt and Road coun­tries

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - FRONT PAGE - By Li Lin

Molka Mazghoun is a young woman with a PhD from the city of La Marsa in Tu­nisia. She now lives in

Kwangju in South Korea and works in a uni­ver­sity teach­ing com­puter cod­ing. How­ever, she has a part-time job as an on­line an­chor.

She broad­casts live feeds for around two hours a day through the smart phone app 7Nu­joom, which was de­vel­oped by a Chi­nese com­pany. Mazghoun has al­ready gained more than 10,000 fol­low­ers, and most of them are from Saudi Ara­bia, Egypt, Al­ge­ria and Syria.

She plays var­i­ous card games on­line with her fans and also watches her fans chal­leng­ing each other when she is live. In ad­di­tion, she plays mu­sic for the chal­lengers. “[Broad­cast­ing on] 7Nu­joom for me is like an acad­emy to im­prove my ca­pac­i­ties in a joy­ful way,” she said, adding that she makes ex­tra money by do­ing this.

Mazghoun is one of the an­chors tak­ing ad­van­tage of Chi­nese live-broad­cast plat­forms in the Belt and Road coun­tries. Ac­cord­ing to re­search done in June by Ten­cent Re­search In­sti­tute, a so­cial sci­ence re­search in­sti­tute founded and sup­ported by Chi­nese In­ter­net gi­ant Ten­cent, Chi­nese live-stream­ing plat­forms mainly go abroad to 12 Belt and Road coun­tries in ar­eas such as West­ern Asia, North­ern Africa and South­east Asia. The top three down­load coun­tries are In­done­sia, Malaysia and Saudi Ara­bia; the top three coun­tries with live-stream­ing pay­ments are Saudi Ara­bia, In­done­sia and Thai­land. There are 11 Chi­nese live-broad­cast plat­forms that have gone abroad, and eight of them went to Belt and Road coun­tries in West­ern Asia, North­ern Africa and the Mid­dle East.

Liv­ing in a for­eign world

Liu Boxia, Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer of Bei­jing-based Fis­sion Tech­nol­ogy Co, Ltd, said their com­pany aims to make Ara­bian and Turk­ish on­line live-broad­cast en­ter­tain­ment plat­forms, so they de­vel­oped 7Nu­joom and Haahi. Now, the two apps have over 10 mil­lion reg­is­tered users and have signed more than 3,000 an­chors from many coun­tries in­clud­ing Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Ara­bia and Le­banon. More­over, 7Nu­joom has over 1 mil­lion grass­roots video and voice an­chors.

Liu said the Mid­dle East has a rather de­vel­oped mo­bile In­ter­net en­vi­ron­ment with 3G and 4G speeds, adding that there is not that much en­ter­tain­ment on­line, so live-stream­ing plat­forms have the abil­ity to thrive in th­ese ar­eas. Be­fore 7Nu­joom opened in the re­gion, most of the coun­tries did not have live-stream­ing apps.

Su Jian, the CEO of Mico & Kitty Live, said their live-stream­ing app Kitty Live has had over 20 mil­lion down­loads, 9,000 signed an­chors and hun­dreds of thou­sands of grass­roots an­chors. Their users and an­chors are mainly from South­east Asia, the Mid­dle East and South Amer­ica

“Now many Chi­nese en­ter­prises choose to fur­ther de­velop their over­seas mar­ket in South­east Asia be­cause of its geo-ad­van­tages,” Su said. “How­ever, livestream­ing prod­ucts have more ad­van­tages in coun­tries with large pop­u­la­tions and rel­a­tively high GDP level.”

The live-stream­ing plat­forms have brought new op­por­tu­ni­ties and pos­si­bil­i­ties for ca­reers for the peo­ple in th­ese coun­tries.

Amy Nashaat, 30, used to work in a factory in Ghisa, Egypt. She did not know any­thing about live steam­ing be­fore 7Nu­joom be­came avail­able. Now she is a full-time live-stream­ing an­chor and has had about 600,000 fol­low­ers who are from all over the world but mostly Egypt, Saudi Ara­bia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I work four hours a day, chat with my fans, dis­cuss cer­tain top­ics in our daily lives and play mu­sic,” she said. “I have al­ways dreamed of be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional an­chor and now I have re­al­ized the dream.”

Re­spect lo­cal cul­ture

Liu said it is very im­por­tant for for­eign en­ter­prises to fully un­der­stand and re­spect lo­cal cul­ture if they want to blend into the lo­cal so­ci­ety. The 7Nu­joom team in­vested a lot of time com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the lo­cal en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try, stars, me­dia and the gov­ern­ment to ne­go­ti­ate the live-stream­ing pro­grams, and they hired many cul­tural ex­perts to make rules for the con­tent of their live streams.

Su agreed with Liu. He said in his com­pany, the most im­por­tant point is that the live stream­ing can­not have any porno­graphic con­tent or any vi­o­la­tion of lo­cal re­li­gious cus­toms. Both apps have a con­tent su­per­vi­sion team work­ing around the clock, in which many em­ploy­ees are lo­cal peo­ple.

Lara Mat­tar, 24, is from Cairo in Egypt. She is a model and ra­dio DJ at a lo­cal ra­dio sta­tion. She is now a part­time an­chor with about 70,000 fans on 7Nu­joom.

“Ara­bian coun­tries’ cul­ture is very

much dif­fer­ent with that in China, and peo­ple think and act dif­fer­ently,” she said. “I think strict rules are nec­es­sary for live stream­ing in Ara­bian coun­tries so as to of­fer au­di­ences due re­spect.”

Mat­tar also said that she hopes the live-stream­ing in­dus­try in Egypt can be­come more and more pro­fes­sional and fo­cus more on an­chors’ unique tal­ents.

“The cul­ture in our coun­try can breed many tal­ented peo­ple in this in­dus­try, and Ara­bian coun­tries have had many ad­vanced ideas for live stream­ing,” she said. “I hope the live-stream­ing in­dus­try can be­come a star-breed­ing bed in the Ara­bian world.”

Su said they re­spect the va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent coun­tries and re­gions’ cul­tures, and they have found that au­di­ences in dif­fer­ent coun­tries like dif­fer­ent livestream­ing con­tent. As a re­sult, they have de­vel­oped co­op­er­a­tive re­la­tions in con­tent pro­duc­ing.

“We in­vited pop­u­lar star Mai Davika to rep­re­sent Kitty Live in Thai­land and co­op­er­ated with Thai Play­boy, whose Play­boy bun­nies have many fixed chan­nels; we also live broad­cast Thai box­ing com­pe­ti­tions,” he said. “In Sin­ga­pore, we cre­ated a di­a­logue pro­gram Kitty Talk, and we co­op­er­ate with male model com- pe­ti­tion or­ga­niz­ers and live broad­cast their shows.”

Re­gard­ing the re­li­gious el­e­ment, the live-broad­cast plat­forms or­ga­nize many char­ity events for the pub­lic good, which is in line with the coun­tries’ so­cial com­mon un­der­stand­ing and wins the sup­port of lo­cal peo­ple.

Liu said be­cause of re­li­gion, peo­ple in the Ara­bian world gen­er­ally have rel­a­tively high char­ity aware­ness. As a re­sult, to blend into lo­cal so­ci­ety, they have held many char­ity events. Dur­ing this year’s Ra­madan in June, they or­ga­nized a few an­chors to go to Amal As­so­ci­a­tion Sala Ja­dida, an or­phan­age in Ra­bat, the cap­i­tal of Morocco. The an­chors played, read books and shared if­tars with the or­phans, which sym­bol­ize unity and hap­pi­ness.

“Ra­madan is the most im­por­tant month in Mus­lim cul­ture and peo­ple be­lieve that in this month they should do good things to help oth­ers,” he said.

In South­east Asian coun­tries it is the same. Lynn, 22, lives in Bangkok in Thai­land. She is a uni­ver­sity stu­dent and started live stream­ing last Septem­ber. Broad­cast­ing daily for about two hours, she now has more than 28,000 fans on Kitty Live. Most of her fans are from Thai­land.

She said the most im­pres­sive thing about live stream­ing was join­ing in the pub­lic wel­fare event dur­ing the Songkran Fes­ti­val this year with 100 other broad­cast­ers on Kitty Live.

“We cleaned Silom Street. I was born in Bangkok, and I love Bangkok,” she said.

Su said that un­der­stand­ing lo­cal liv­ing habits is also im­por­tant.

“For ex­am­ple, when we first opened the Mid­dle East mar­ket, we found the an­chors’ re­ward and pay­ment in the app store rose very slowly,” he said. “We re­al­ized lo­cal peo­ple like to use cash to pay on de­liv­ery, so we de­vel­oped a lo­cal pay­ment chan­nel, like the pre­paid cards sold in China and we have a spe­cial sales team for large pay­ments.”

Co­op­er­a­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion

Liu said the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment’s poli­cies and the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive have helped them a lot in de­vel­op­ing over­seas mar­kets in Ara­bian coun­tries. Also, with China’s ris­ing in­ter­na­tional sta­tus, more for­eign­ers are will­ing to co­op­er­ate with Chi­nese com­pa­nies.

Many an­chors also grew in­ter­ested in China through us­ing Chi­nese livestream­ing plat­forms. Mekkawi is one of them. He is a web celebrity of orig­i­nal funny videos in Egypt and an an­chor on 7Nu­joom. He vis­ited China in Jan­uary and came to Bei­jing to live broad­cast his life.

Liu said his com­pany’s staff ac­com­pa­nied him dur­ing his live stream of the streets in Houhai and Nan­lu­ogux­i­ang. Many of his fans saw him eat tanghulu (ice-su­gar hawthorns) and other street snacks and were all very cu­ri­ous. They asked hun­dreds of ques­tions about what he was eat­ing and how it tasted. Also, some of them had never seen snow and down jack­ets and asked a lot of ques­tions about China’s weather.

“I know that China is a very great and civ­i­lized coun­try with a long his­tory. China has in­vented many of the most ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies and live stream­ing is one of them,” Mat­tar said. “Many great tal­ents can be found in the live-stream­ing in­dus­try, and it’s the same all over the world. I hope very much to live stream to Chi­nese au­di­ences and some­day visit China.”

Photo: Li Hao/GT

Chi­nese live-stream­ing apps are go­ing abroad to many Belt and Road coun­tries in the Mid­dle East and South­east Asia.

Photo: Courtesy of Liu Boxia

A pro­fes­sional livestream­ing stu­dio in Egypt.

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