Despite all the brouhaha around internet celebrities and KOLs, it turns out that money is the top reason why Chinese users decide to livestream, not fame.

In a report released by Tencent on Monday, out of 4525 Chinese netizens surveyed, 43% of those who are willing to be livestream hosts would do so for the money. The second most popular response, at 34.6%, was livestreaming as a way to “kill time.” Survey respondents could pick more than one response in their answer, the other options being livestreaming for fun (32%), to share life experiences (22.2%), or to gain followers (17.9%).

The results illustrate one of the key differences between Chinese livestreaming platforms and their Western counterparts: digital gifts. In China, audience members can tip livestreaming hosts with digital gifts that are later converted into real money through the platform. On YY, one of China’s leading livestreaming platforms, for example, digital gifts range from 0.1 RMB – applause, a lollipop, fruit candy – to 1314 RMB, a luxurious cruise ship. Users who tip – especially those who tip generously – are usually thanked and acknowledged by the host during the show.

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Eva Xiao

Eva Xiao is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. Contact her at eva.xiao@technode.com or evawxiao (wechat & twitter).