Chinese Streaming Platforms: Live Video Streaming and Hosting [2023 Update]
It’s no secret that China is heralded as one of the biggest markets for nearly everything. And it’s no different when it comes to streaming of events. In fact, the Chinese live streaming market is expected to grow from 700 billion Yuan ($103.19 billion) in 2023 to 2,100 billion ($309.57 billion) in 2026.
As a business looking to maximize your reach, sales and revenue, China must be in your sights. But you need to know the intricacies of the Chinese market and how best to appeal to Chinese audiences. Since the Chinese market is so huge and hyper competitive, you should consider using a live streaming platform based outside of China for best results.
In this article, we’ll paint a clearer picture of the Chinese market. We’ll distil all you need to know to immerse yourself in the Chinese market and succeed. Most notably, we’ll cover the challenges you may face and discuss how to overcome them. Finally, we’ll reveal the best live streaming platforms that offer service in China. By the end, you’ll be well-equipped to establish your presence and reap the massive rewards of live streaming in the Chinese market.
Market Overview and Trends
Live streaming has become a necessity for busniesses that not only want their brands to grow but thrive. The Chinese live streaming market is massive. With such a huge population, millions of users from across the nation tune in to see live streamers for entertainment, gaming and much more. Therefore, live streaming in China can be one of the most lucrative in the world.
But with such a gargantuan market comes incredible competiton. Consider the following stats and see why it’s well worth getting your live streaming right when appealing to the Chinese audience:
- McKinsey forecasts that by 2030, the number of households in China with upper-middle-class incomes and higher could be roughly equal to what you would find in Europe and the USA combined.
- Based on data released in February 2022, about 703.4 million live streaming users live in China. This represents about 68.2% of total internet users in China.
- About 27.5% of internet users in China have live streamed a sport. That’s about 284 million people. To add to the appeal of the China live streaming market, a majority of those 284,000 people paid for sports streaming services.
- In addition to sports, internet users in China commonly live stream video content in e-commerce, gaming, reality shows, and concerts, according to numbers reported just as 2022 was about to begin.
By not improving the live streaming experience for Chinese viewers, you’ll miss out on a massive audience. This is true for all industries, including sports, entertainment, and e-commerce. Sports broadcasters should especially be hungry to enter this market because sports are still a relatively untapped market compared to other industries. Furthermore, live streaming forms a huge part of sports-related content.
That’s why our team at Dacast has developed a robust China live streaming platform. With such enormous opportunities to be gained by tapping into the China live streaming market, we want to equip our users with everything needed to achieve their business broadcasting goals.
How Does the Great Firewall of China Influence Live Streaming?
The Great Firewall of China can have a serious impact on your streaming endeavors.
The Great Firewall of China, also called The Golden Shield Project, is an elaborate censoring system. It was designed to regulate internet usage within the country, and it achieves this by using various sophisticated techniques to filter content. Without getting too political, the purpose of the Great Firewall of China is to protect the people of China from “spiritual pollutants.”
Some example factors that the filtering system considers include domain name, specific words or keywords, and detection of specific faces. On top of social sites like Facebook and Twitter, this convenient tool lets you see which other websites are blocked in China.
Now that you know the basics of what it is, let’s talk about the implications of the Great Firewall of China on live streaming.
First, broadcasters must take extra steps to make sure the quality of the stream they deliver is robust and dependable. Second, once broadcasters figure out a way to deliver that solid experience, they must become well-versed in what is and isn’t allowed. Lastly, you may need an ICP license for China live streaming.
Let’s cover these 3 implications more closely next.
Servers Inside China vs. Outside China
A big factor in Chinese streaming quality and performance is latency, which is affected by distance. It’s not uncommon for Chinese users to tune into a live stream that’s being streamed from a server in the USA or Australia. That’s far.
When shopping for Chinese streaming platforms, you need to dig deeper into the phrase “live streaming to China”.
Content delivery network (CDN) servers in Hong Kong are outside what we consider Mainland China for streaming purposes. This means content delivered from Chinese streaming platforms with Hong Kong servers still has to go through the Great Firewall.
While using servers in Hong Kong certainly has a proximity advantage, leading to lower latency, you may run into the very problem you’re trying to solve in the first place—finding a China live streaming platform with dependable performance. Additionally, there’s still a chance your live video in China may be blocked for things out of your control, like your livestream on a specific CDN edge server being blocked because of another broadcast on the same server.
That’s why you want to find a China live streaming platform, like Dacast. Dacast includes servers and infrastructure within Mainland China, not just Hong Kong.
Knowing What Type of Content is Banned in China
Anything that comes over the internet from outside of China will be monitored closely. Although you bypass the careful review process when you use Chinese streaming platforms like Dacast, it’s still a good practice to become familiar with what type of content gets filtered in China.
The list of content that is banned is extensive. Here’s a small list of examples:
- Consuming non-edible food such as paper
- Hip shaking
- Taking shots at nightclubs
- Insulting Chinese heroes and martyrs
- Wearing fake police uniforms
ICP Licenses and China Live Streaming
ICP license fees are very expensive. Arguably only mid-size businesses and large corporations looking to stream into China can afford it. If you take and process payments online or just plan to stream, you just need an ICP registration, which is a bit more affordable, but still costly. If this all sounds discouraging, don’t worry. You can bypass it by using a Chinese streaming platform like Dacast.
With Dacast, you don’t need an ICP license because we’ve done the hard work, so you don’t have to. Leverage our partnerships and infrastructure in Mainland China to bypass the Great Firewall and reach a lucrative Chinese audience with our China live streaming platform.
Try live streaming to China for only $49/hour. No hidden fees.
Not a Dacast member? Try our 14-day free trial.
5 Best Live Streaming Platforms That Offer the Service In China
Now that you know more about why you need to make use of Chinese streaming platforms for hosting and live streaming encoding, let’s talk about 5 of the most popular platforms on the market.
Dacast is a great choice when it comes to streaming to China.
Dacast is one of the largest online video platforms and offers a China Video on Demand service and premium Chinese live streaming features. Dacast has infrastructure inside Mainland China, meaning your streams won’t be affected by the Great Firewall.
As a result, the streams will be more stable and maintain a higher quality. Furthermore, they’re much less likely to be blocked by Chinese authorities. What’s more, Dacast has also gone through the work of acquiring an ICP license, so that you don’t have to.
Unlike other Chinese streaming platforms, Dacast’s pricing is transparent and predictable. You pay $49 per hour of content you live stream to China. There are no hidden fees, no add-ons and no extra license fees are required.
Bandwidth is really expensive in China, so most Chinese streaming platforms charge live streamers a separate fee for it when streaming to China.
But Dacast does not charge any extra fees for bandwidth. Dacast’s pricing starts at $39/month, and you can access Dacast’s streaming to China feature on all plans.
Explore more about live streaming to China using Dacast.
Panopto offers streaming to China from a smaller amount of PoPs.
Panopto uses Amazon Cloudfront CDN to help its users deliver video to China. While it’s one of the best Chinese streaming platforms, keep in mind Amazon Cloudfront has a limited number of points of presence (PoPs) in Mainland China. This includes Beijing, Shanghai, and Zhongwei. So, you still risk experiencing slow loading times and overall inconsistent quality. Despite this, it’s still a robust platform for streaming educational content to China.
Panopto has a $14.99/month pro plan to get you started.
Wowza offers streaming to China without servers inside the country.
Wowza offers streaming support on most plans for China live streaming. However, keep in mind that the content delivery networks they partner with do not have edge servers, or PoPs, in Mainland China, outside the Great Firewall.
Chinese viewers will receive content from the nearest country’s edge servers. This could include Singapore and South Korea.
This Chinese live streaming website has a separate partnership with Alibaba Cloud for those who want a more dependable solution. Alibaba has PoPs in Mainland China and is known for having a solid brand reputation there.
Keep in mind, you won’t need a full ICP license by taking the route with Wowza + Alibaba, but you’ll need an ICP registration.
The pricing for this Chinese streaming platform starts at $29/month.
It costs $175/month + $195/month for each additional instance for their streaming engine.
Note: If you want a more robust Chinese live streaming website, you’ll have to look into deploying Wowza Streaming Engine with Alibaba Cloud. Their partnership page does not list pricing, so you’ll need to contact them to learn more. You’ll likely have to subscribe to Alibaba Cloud separately.
When taking this route, you may also need to invest in Wowza’s Premium Support plans, which are as follows:
- Silver: $125/month/billed annually
- Gold: $585/month/billed annually
- Platinum: Custom
Muvi offers users the ability to deliver premium video content to China.
Muvi has partnerships with Alibaba Cloud, Cloudera, and Tencent Cloud. These help its customers deliver a premium live video or audio experience to a Chinese audience. These cloud networks also enable other Chinese video streaming apps to deliver their live streaming content to Chinese consumers.
Muvi’s partners offer support when delivering content to China, including the ICP license. These partners have multiple PoPs in China and Southeast Asia, enabling low-latency streaming.
With Muvi, your videos are stored in servers located in Mainland China and delivered to Chinese viewers via their CDN. You also have the option to replicate videos to their China servers.
Muvi pricing starts at $399/month (+ $299/month per app + infra fees).
Vidizmo has helped various big-name companies stream to China, including Louis Vuitton.
Vidizmo supports China video hosting in two ways:
1) Deploying Vidizmo in a Microsoft Azure data center located in China
By hosting videos in Mainland China, you bypass the need to get around the Great Firewall of China. Your videos will be stored, hosted, and delivered locally. Pricing for Azure data center is highly customizable and separate from Vidizmo pricing.
2) Storing videos outside of China and delivering them via Azure CDN China.
Alternatively, you can host videos outside Mainland China and use Azure CDN’s China edge servers to deliver content to a Chinese audience. Azure CDN China has partnerships with various local Chinese streaming platforms and has PoPs within China as a result. For this option, you’ll need to get an ICP license for your Chinese live streaming website since it isn’t hosted in China. You’ll also need to subscribe to Azure CDN China separately on top of your Vidizmo subscription.
You have to contact Vidizmo for pricing, but unofficial sources say their pricing starts at $79/user/month. Again, you’ll have to subscribe to Azure CDN China or China Azure data center separately.
1. Is streaming popular in China?
Yes, live streaming is extremely popular in China, with over 727.9 million users in the country in 2023. This represents a staggering penetration rate of 68.1%.
2. What are the best Chinese streaming platforms?
The best Chinese streaming platforms you can use to get your streams delivered to a Chinese audience are:
3. What is the most popular live streaming app in China?
Some of the most popular live streaming apps in China are:
- Taobao Live
4. Can foreigners stream in China?
No, unfortunately, foreigners can’t stream when they’re in China. They can’t do so even on Chinese streaming platforms.
5. Which Chinese streaming platforms have servers in China?
Some of the Chinese streaming platforms that have servers in Mainland China are:
By now you’ll have a greater understanding of how to play and succeed in the Chinese live streaming market. You now know how to bypass delays caused by the Great Firewall of China. You now know the expectations of the Chinese user base and how best to appeal to them and create potential customers.
We’rve discussed various routes to break into the market. For example, Chinese streaming platforms that require investment and costly IPA licensing and CDN subscription service requirements. But, fortunately, there are better, simpler, more cost-effective solutions.
Dacast is one such solution. With Dacast, you pay a simple flat fee of $49/hour – nothing more. Dacast’s professional and well-established platform that has a solid base within mainland China, giving you the best streaming results. And Dacast includes an ICP license, so you don’t have to fork out for one.
Why not give Dacast a go? Sign up and you’ll have access to Dacast’s 14-day free trial.