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The Impact of Live Streaming on Singapore’s Entertainment Industry

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1. Introduction

Singapore has a fast developing economy and a large number of consumers. Its entertainment industry includes everything from employees and jobs to radio, television, and online services. Representatives include recording companies, event companies, advertising companies, and so on. However, the rapid development of the Internet has had a significant impact on the supply chain and model of production and distribution at each company in the entertainment industry. Recently, live stream service technology has rapidly become popular, with almost everyone able to perform live broadcasting on different platforms at any time. A large amount of unique content is generated and there are many big players in this market. This research explores how large companies in different sectors of the entertainment industry see the impact of Internet live streaming as a new emerging communication technology.

The emergence of live streaming Singapore technology has brought about a major revolution in the field of media communication. Whether it is live broadcasting on social networking platforms like Facebook or live interactive classes or live broadcasting of major sports events, live streaming has become widely used. This research discusses the impact of the new technology of live streaming on Singapore’s entertainment industry. This research examines three representative companies in the main sectors of the Singapore entertainment industry. The aim is to study how live streaming has affected the existing profit or business models of companies in the field and transformed the entertainment industry in Singapore.

1.1. Background of Live Streaming in Singapore

The benefit of this distribution medium is that the content is being broadcasted to a much wider audience by allowing viewers to watch the content virtually anywhere with an internet connection. Live streaming is a concept which has been around for more than 10 years already. However, it has started catching on to mainstream media in these past two years because of the affordability of consumer cameras, broadband availability, and software to encode AV into H.264 standards. Businesses and advertisers are catching on to this affordable medium. Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) also benefit because of the high exposure for the brand.

Due to the general elections, many events in Singapore have been postponed from February to May 2011. Some festivals have been merged and postponed. Thus, the events from July to September have been flooded with events. However, this will prove to be a good opportunity for live streaming to create an impact on the entertainment industry. The essence of live streaming is the simultaneous transmission of data such as video and audio (often referred to as AV) by a producer, or producer’s designated third-party broadcast service, or broadcaster, to a recipient who is watching the broadcast over the internet as the data is transmitted. Live streaming is not like “Video on Demand” which exists as the content is played back to the recipient at a later time.

2. Current State of the Entertainment Industry in Singapore

In terms of live music concerts, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has taken the first leap towards their efforts to expand its consumer audience locally to develop Singapore as the preferred destination for international artists who are holding their shows, concerts, or music festivals in the SEA region. Among notable concerts that were organized were the iKon multi-day concert, Mariah Carey’s concert, Gardens by the Bay where the Sakura reading festival will be held, and Universal Studio Singapore concerts.

In the competitive market for the entertainment industry in Singapore, a market survey since the start of 2020 suggests that the majority of the entertainment market in Singapore was dominated by e-sports and music concerts. Based on e-sports tournaments in the year 2020 alone, a total of $3,527,600 worth of e-sports tournaments were hosted in Singapore. From this figure, a total of $1,200,000 was paid out. This was gathered from 595 e-sports tournaments that were hosted in 8 different game titles. The 8 game titles include Brawl Stars, Free Fire, and Call of Duty titles.

In Chapter One, the current state of the entertainment industry, focusing on the niche area of entertainment in Singapore, is discussed. This is followed by the discussion on the current trend in live streaming that has been impacting the global entertainment industry. Interest in the development of different types of e-sports tournaments available in Singapore is brought to light. The narrative is concluded with a brief discussion on the topic of this dissertation.

The impact of live streaming on Singapore’s entertainment industry

2.1. Traditional Entertainment Platforms

It is important to distinguish between traditional and newer OTT video streaming services. Traditional services are transmitted to television through cable and satellite, with most cable and satellite systems offering direct digital broadcast through the set-top box. In addition, traditional platforms only have a one-way connection at the start of the demand process. Moreover, traditional cable operators and broadcasters have to invest heavily in infrastructural and head-end equipment, while OTT service providers can rely on the public internet to reach a wide audience. With the increasing availability of fast and reliable internet access, low-cost internet-driven services have greatly changed the system; content delivery chains are also very streamlined and can respond to the changing demand delivery of their subscribers. In contrast, emerging OTT service providers offer consumers more competitive channel packages at lower prices. The most popular newly emerging OTT service that allows live streaming and access to on-demand content is Sling TV. Established in January 2015, it broadcasts content over a broadband connection, bypassing traditional wireline cable or satellite connections and bundled television service plans. As a result, its monthly price is very reasonable, starting at $20 per month. Sling TV offers the service of broadcasting the entire cable channel from major TV broadcasters such as ESPN, CNN, and HBO.

Online streaming services in Singapore are provided mainly by content providers such as Netflix, Viu, and HOOQ. With the widespread use and availability of high-speed internet in Singapore, at an average speed of 70.86Mbps, it is one of the highest in the world. The development of technology has undoubtedly spurred digital shifts in content consumption, and film consumption is no exception. The entry of these OTT companies will likely put the squeeze on the television and cable sectors in Singapore in the years ahead. Currently, Singapore’s subscription TV penetration is 6%, compared to 100% for the majority of markets for pay-TV around the world. Furthermore, Singapore’s penetration rate for access to high-speed internet is 98%. In 2017, Singapore’s pay-TV penetration rate was 67.6%, and Singapore’s internet user penetration rate is now about 84% since 2016. As more local and foreign viewers are replacing traditional broadcast platforms with online streaming services, what are the potential implications on the media market?

3. Benefits of Live Streaming in the Entertainment Industry

With the discussed benefits of live streaming, we now turn our attention to its impact on Singapore’s entertainment industry. Unfortunately, there has been very limited research done on the effects of live streaming on a country’s entertainment industry. However, from a recent study done by Altimeter, it has been observed that live streaming has profound effects especially on e-sports. E-sports have been extensively growing all around the world for several years. Singapore too, is no exception when it comes to the trend of e-sports. The prize pool of e-sports tournaments has gone from a few thousand dollars in the early 2000s to well over $10 million in recent years, surpassing even certain prize pools of traditional sports tournaments. The technology of live streaming has united millions of people on one platform to allow fans to watch professional gamers compete. This has brought Singapore’s and the world’s gaming industry and culture to new heights. In fact, there have been many international gaming events held in Singapore, such as Elec Expo, Game Start Asia and SEA Major. We have also hosted many international e-sports events where the viewership easily surpassed hundreds of thousands. The introduction of live streaming technology has brought Singapore’s gaming industry a boost, and we believe that this revelation can be replicated in the entertainment industry.

Firstly, live streaming eliminates geographical restrictions, giving entertainers an avenue to reach out to a wider and global audience. Through live streaming, local artists will be better exposed and seen by more people worldwide. Secondly, it allows for greater flexibility in terms of timing. Since everyone has a different schedule, it is tough to align everyone’s time for an event. With the availability of live stream, everyone gets to tune in to the event no matter what time it is, as long as it is the right day. Thirdly, viewers can watch an event which they missed in person with the help of live streaming. This allows for playback, thus encouraging more viewers to stream the live event. Lastly, live streaming technology eventually allows for more innovation in experiences. With live streaming, viewers can have many different experiences that were never possible before. With new technologies, live streaming can produce an unexpected and truly unique experience for fans.

3.1. Wider Audience Reach

However, the wider outreach of Singapore’s artistes and celebrities does not restrict only to audience engagement through talents or performance. Traditionally, artistes interact mainly with their audience through fan meetings or live concerts. Both usually entail the purchase of tickets by their fans. Occasionally, the artistes attend interviews or promotional events for their TV shows, movies, music albums, fan club meetings, and meet-and-greet sessions with fans. Due to the rise of the own-produced video content of entertainers, after the transitional period of receiving a more prominent fanbase, the audience started to seek live interaction opportunities with their idols even when the audience is supporting from abroad.

Talent agencies frequently send their budding talents abroad, especially to countries like China and South Korea, to participate in competitions, variety programmes, and sometimes even reality talent shows in order to be noticed by their counterparts or to establish connections with entertainment business professionals in those countries. The live streaming of these competitions and talent shows facilitates such opportunities for these talented individuals to showcase their skills. Moreover, it also helps to expand the individuals’ fanbase. It is unprecedented for a Singaporean idol to have 7.8 million Weibo fans. Such popularity is only possible because of the broadcasting trend around the world.

4. Challenges and Concerns in Live Streaming

Making money from live streaming has been a great attraction for many who are looking to do it full time. However, not all efforts to monetize your live stream may work. Some live streamers had even gone beyond their legal rights and end up with legal repercussions. Such behavior will hamper monetization plans in the future. Furthermore, content that is accepted in China may not receive a good response from audiences abroad. In addition, an alliance with netizens from neighboring countries would present a more effective support for high ratings, which challenges a Singaporean live streamer. Other challenges presented by the rising level of competition in the industry and also being aware of slanderous public perceptions caused by similar trends of instantaneous communication.

Research has shown that live-streamers often experience negative effects such as stress, lack of privacy, and bullying from online trolls. With an unfiltered environment, it leaves live-streamers very vulnerable to cyberbullying and harassment. Hawkey and Cunningham argue that live streaming is a complex form of self-presentation with important implications for all of the issues the individual Internet user or company might typically associate with social media and the broadcast news world. The fact that it is live means there are no opportunities for post-production editing, and this considerably increases the risk of negative consequences coming to light. Counseled by a range of live streaming celebrities across the various SNS platforms, live streaming and especially just the broadcasting of their private life can lead to bad things happening.

4.1. Quality Control and Censorship

The problem has attracted attention from all parties and has attracted widespread feedback. Newspaper groups have written to MCI to streamline the internet regulation; TV streaming companies have also had dialogues with MCI to understand the implications arising from a license. Live and on-demand streaming of content is regulated under Broadcasting (Class License) Notification (Amendment of Schedule) Notification. Under this framework, local and foreign ownership and operation of locally registered TV broadcasting companies are all put in place. A key objective of the regulation is to prevent excessive foreign control of Singapore media entities and ensure content distributed by a broadcasting company is not prejudicial to the public interest, good taste, or decency. Positive steps must be taken to ideally regulate local and external live streaming enterprises.

The second point that we should take note of is the concepts of censorship that live streaming stations have. The essence of censorship in the era of live media is that it seems that the established censorship authority cannot effectively manage the media platforms that are rapidly emerging under the trend of live format. There is a trend of ideal confusion for live information. It seems that the authority is moving from the institutionalization of mass media to selective information management. At the same time, the integrity of the information is also affected by live conference format. At present, the ruling deploys public opinion management across the Web. Although the transparency of real-time information on social media, like political information, conflict events, and national policies, can contribute to poverty reduction for the ruling, it is masked. Live media is concealed in a rapidly expanding space, leading to a multiplicity of tampered information. Moreover, rumors contain all of the damaging news, disaster, health, and online environment information. As a result, the political economy of different classes, such as internal monitors and external comments, has deteriorated. Moreover, the imperfection and deadlock between each category have led to the further spread of tampered news. Additionally, the new challenges posed by such live relationships are not just a violation of state censorship but also a challenge to the fairness and objectivity of news.

On the other hand, live streaming platforms are still not as closely regulated as television and theatrical releases. The need for quality control, given a generation of youths so steeped in live streaming, was raised when a 23-year-old Chinese woman talked about plastic surgery to look better in the live streams. This woman, a live streaming star, was seen walking up to a camera to show a recent neck scar after a clinic visit, which then turned into a live stream chat show. Voices chimed in asking details of how much the procedure would cost, where to get it done, and how to dress after getting it done under questioning by the show’s presenter. Health experts said the incident set a bad example for youth and tarnished the status of using plastic surgery for proper consultations and medical solving. Essentially, as the live streaming business model enables real-time interaction between the TV star and viewers, this increases the fans’ sense of participation, and the interaction effect is very remarkable. In general, there are presently five main characteristics of live streaming.

5. Future Trends and Opportunities

In the next section, we will provide recommendations and guidelines for the successful hosting of programs, as well as for talent recruitment.

  1. Potential IPOs The big talents and platforms may go for greater capital injections through IPOs, especially if the company is making money. As we have seen in the United States and China, there is a huge inflow of excess capital for companies that are leading in this new industry. Japan has a similar capital investment trend. It is not farfetched to state that IPOs could be an opportunity that talents would openly welcome.
  2. Increasing regulation The MCI may introduce and enforce higher regulatory standards for platforms, such as forcing incorporation in the country and to comply with existing rules, including contributing to promoting local talent. The MDA may analyze the appropriation of content and regulate if it sees necessary.
  3. Talent behaving more like businesses Top earning talents will hire talent managers and agents. They will look for talent managers with the best connections and resign with agents that have the best industry access. Some talented individuals may express dissatisfaction at the commission rates and leave multi-channel networks. They may join business entities/independence to represent themselves. They would also explore opportunities to increase their revenue through traditional platforms or sources, such as product endorsements, events hosting, TV productions, TV auditions, advertisements placement, or licensing, etc.
  4. Increased use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) AR and VR will gain popularity in Singapore. Soon, viewers would demand more immersive experiences from the live stream shows, and AR or VR technology will answer this call. Talents would also use AR and VR technology to wow their audiences with unique and innovative performances.

Although young, the live streaming industry in Singapore is transitioning into a more mature phase with revenue generation becoming an important consideration. We anticipate a few trends in Singapore’s live streaming industry:

5.1. Integration of Virtual Reality

One standout development in Dev87 Entertainment is providing an immersive 3D+CGI virtual concert experience, where international fans could interact firsthand with VTubers in Dev87’s very own VUU application. The VUU experience came not only with live streaming but also with 3D visual effects to light up the concert. The company had managed to integrate popular augmented reality filters and virtual reality into their livestreams by scanning users’ environment and rendering it into real-time augmented, mixed, or virtual reality. The grand resolutions beyond 30K pixels on top resolution allow the immersive VR viewing experience in any environment. The high resolution and refreshing rates support native VR display at the JBV capacity. With this technological integration, not only virtual but physical tickets to both VTuber show and fan meetings quickly sold out. Additionally, the application gave additional special ticket benefits and was featured in PlayStation Vita games. In recognition of this immersive virtual concert experience, the company won the 2020 MAVIS – Most Advanced Virtual Immersive Music Stage.

One of the distinct features of live streaming platforms is the technology integration that enhances entertainment value. Audiences are able to vote, communicate directly with their favorite performers, or vote for various song choices in a show. It is particularly user-friendly for the ethnically diverse audience who can communicate with the performers in their native languages, although the content may be in English or Mandarin. In particular, a site that allows audience participation promotes social interactions following the performance where studio visitors can meet and greet the host and performers. Furthermore, paying for tickets is optional and not mandatory for watching a performer’s virtual performance live on the site.

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