China is tightening its grip on livestreaming sites as it steps up efforts to rein in big tech companies and strengthen online censorship, in a move that could curb growth in the booming sector, reported the Financial Times.
New regulations for the industry, in which viewers interact with and send virtual gifts to online performers, increase controls on content, ban teenagers from making purchases and limit the total spending by any single user. They also tighten rules on livestreaming ecommerce, where hosts promote goods to shoppers, one of China’s fastest growing areas of online shopping, said the FT.
The State Administration for Radio, Film and Television’s rules, announced late on Monday, come after the coronavirus pandemic prompted a surge in spending on livestreaming platforms such as those run by tech groups Alibaba and Kuaishou. The market for virtual gifts was worth RMB 180 billion ($27 billion) last year, according to iResearch, while total goods ordered via livestreams hit RMB 451 billion.
This year, Alibaba alone reported RMB 350 billion in livestream orders through its Taobao Live platform in the 12 months to September. Kuaishou, which is targeting a Hong Kong initial public offering at a valuation of $50 billion, has 302 million daily users.