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An online streamer, also known as a live streamer, internet streamer, or streamer, is a person who broadcasts themself online through a live stream or pre-recorded video. The scope of online streamers has grown to include different genres ranging from playing video games, tutorials, or even solo chats.
While streamers as we know today didn't come about until the early 2010s, their origins can be traced back to sites like YouTube where users could upload videos of themselves in the form of vlogs or Let's Plays. While all content was not live, users were still able to gain a sizable audience and good amount of subscribers to their channels. Many became so popular that they were able to pursue a career and make a living off of their content. It wasn't until the popularity of streaming sites like Twitch that more and more people were able to stream themselves online and make even better money from it to become full-time streamers. Today, there are many different platforms where people can stream and create a niche for themselves with their own unique content.
Let's Players have been the most popular streamers by far since the beginning of live streaming by having the biggest audience and fanbase online. Today, the majority of streamers make their living from doing Let's Plays, live speedruns, and walkthroughs of video games. The most well known and biggest video game streamers are PewDiePie and Ninja who make millions of dollars each year just from streaming.
While the majority of professional and part-time streamers play video games, many often do IRL (in real life) streams where they broadcast themselves going about their daily life. They often do various activities while reading tips and questions from their viewers. At first, many streaming sites prohibited non-gaming live streams as they thought it would harm the quality of the content on their sites but as the demand for more and more non-gaming related content grew, many streaming sites decided to offer IRL streams. These streams can range from answering questions in front of a computer, streaming from their phone while walking outside, or even doing tutorials. IRL streams have become more popular over the years as good alternatives to viewers who do not necessarily like to play video games. The most popular IRL streamer being Jakenbake who does travel streams often from different countries like China and Japan.
Pornographic streams have also been popular for viewers as a way to directly communicate with people and porn stars online. Many pornographic streamers are often referred to as camgirls and will broadcast streams while nude or performing sexual acts often on demand from viewers. It is not limited to just women as both men and couples stream themselves online. This content can range from amateur to professional works. Many pornographic sites that host videos have also added the ability to offer live streams due to demand and popularity. It has served as another way for their models to gain revenue and provide content to their fans. Some sites like Plexstorm have even created a niche for themselves by serving as a site where users are allowed to stream themselves play video game while performing or showing sexual content as they play. It is also one of the few sites that allows pornographic games to be played on stream.
Streamers in Asia
While streamers have become more prevalent around the around, Asia has become a big marketplace with Korean and Chinese streaming sites making a big amount of revenue from their streams.
In South Korea, a streamer is referred to as a broadcast jockey or BJ. Broadcast jockeys have become popular over the years in Korea thanks in part to many of them being more relatable to viewers than some celebrities and becoming famous enough to appear on TV shows. While it is common for broadcast jockeys to become national stars, there has been a recent rise in the number of famous Korean idols and celebrities becoming broadcast jockeys either as a way to supplement their career or full-time as they make more money streaming then they would acting or singing. The number of famous stars becoming full-time broadcast jockeys has outpaced the number of part-timers as many prefer the freedom the profession offers. This trend has not been limited to celebrities as a significant number of politicians have also created their own channels on streaming sites and have begun to broadcast themselves online as a way to become more famous and get their political message across to a bigger number of people. Popular streaming sites in Korea include AfreecaTV, Naver TV, and KakaoTV in addition to popular worldwide streaming sites like Twitch, YouTube, and Mixer.
One popular streaming format that originated from Korea is Mukbang which is a stream where a person broadcasts themselves eating in front of a camera to a live audience. The popularity of these streams has spread outside of Korea with many sites like Twitch offering "Social Eating" on their platform.
China has become the largest marketplace for live streaming with a large number of users being able to make lucrative careers from it. A large number of streamers are able to make $10,000-$100,000 a month without having to be a big name on the internet. This is due to the large population and the ubiquity of smartphones where many Chinese citizens prefer to consume their entertainment. The live streaming market grew 180% in 2016 and has grown even more since then. One main difference to the Chinese live streaming market is that many of the sites where users stream are all Chinese sites mainly due to the strict internet rules in the country and the difficulty of cooperating with the Chinese Communist Party. Regardless of this, the Chinese market has become a lucrative one with many agencies signing many streamers to contracts and many of them averaging 100,000 viewers per stream. Many will often make $29,000 per month just by partnering with an agency.
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