Streaming arose in the early 2010s, originating in 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 make a living off of their content. Other sites like Twitch increased this popularity. Due to the millions of dollars that streamers can make, streaming has become a viable career option for individuals who have personality or skill.
Let's Players have been the most popular streamers by far since the beginning of live streaming. Today, the majority of streamers make their living from doing Let's Plays, live speedruns, and walkthroughs of video games. The 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 their daily life. 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 the demand for non-gaming content grew. Topics include answering questions in front of a computer, streaming from their phone while walking outside, or even doing tutorials. IRL streams are alternatives to viewers who do not necessarily like to play video games.
Pornographic streams are a way to directly communicate with porn stars. Camgirls broadcast while nude or performing sexual acts often on demand from viewers. Sites like Plexstorm have created a niche by streaming video gamers performing or showing sexual content including pornographic games.
Asia has become a big marketplace, especially in South Korea and China.
In South Korea, a streamer is called 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 than 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 freedom over professional offers. Politicians have streaming channels. Korean sites include AfreecaTV, Naver TV, and KakaoTV in addition to worldwide streaming sites like Twitch, YouTube, Mixer, Periscope, and Bigo Live.
Mukbang originated in South Korea, as the live-streaming of eating a meal. Global sites like Twitch offer "Social Eating".
China has become the largest marketplace for live streaming. A large number of streamers 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. Chinese streaming sites may be restricted to Chinese content and audiences due to the strict Internet rules in the country and the difficulty of cooperating with the Chinese Communist Party. Many Chinese streamers average 100,000 viewers per stream and earn $29,000 per month just by partnering with an agency.
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