Bigo Live drives growth in the live-streaming industry
Mike Ong

People began exhausting the regular entertainment outlets where Bigo Live stepped in and offered something new

by LYDIA NATHAN / pic credit: Bigo Live

AMID the new normal that spells physical and staying home, people have been looking at ways to entertain and remain connected, making way for various online platforms including Bigo Live that are fast gaining traction in Malaysia.

Launched in 2016, Bigo Live capitalises on global live streaming and is currently one of the fastest-growing communities today, with more than 400 million users across 150 countries.

Bigo Technology VP government relations Mike Ong (picture) said the company saw a huge global increase in its usage of Bigo Live during the first few months of the year and Malaysia was no exception.

“In the second quarter of 2020, we achieved a milestone of 29.4 million average monthly users, translating to a 41.3% growth year-on-year. Malaysia saw over 20% of growth in live users this year already,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in an interview recently.

Ong said people began exhausting the regular entertainment outlets and Bigo Live stepped in and offered something new.

“Bigo is an acronym for ‘Before I Get Old’, and its genesis was to be able to connect anyone from around the world together by providing a platform for sharing.

“With a vision to be a content platform that inspires one billion peoples’ lives, Bigo’s main aim is to empower a new generation of users with an exciting new social language where one can showcase, discover and stay connected in a positive and creative environment,” he said.

In Malaysia, broadcasters showcase unique talents like singing, dancing, cosplay, cooking, fortune-telling, and other skills.

“A broadcaster can invite guests to join them for a live room session, as it creates a livelier, engaging experience for both parties.

“Users can also play competitive games in the form of a ‘penalty kick’, where the losing party has to perform a penalty like singing a funny song or drawing a moustache on their face,” Ong said.

Safety and privacy are given the utmost importance, and Ong said all the contents are moderated by a powerful artificial intelligence system that is able to filter and detect undesirable feeds, content, images or text that is contradictory to community guidelines up to 99% accuracy in less than 60 seconds.

“Our library of negative keywords is able to track over 20 languages, and together with our team of human moderators, all content is monitored 24 hours a day so we can assure users everything on the platform is not only entertaining but healthy as well,” he said.

Broadcasters are also able to earn an income through the in-app virtual gifting feature, where viewers can send virtual gifts which are then converted to Bigo Beans and cashed out.

Ong said as the outbreak caused movement restrictions and self-isolation, Bigo Live also organised informative sessions with medical practitioners.

“These sessions were held in Malaysia and other regions as well, where users got to clarify health-related matters with professionals and ask questions while receiving tips and advice on matters relating to Covid-19, as well as general matters.

“Another first for Bigo Live was hosting its ‘Cloud Clubbing’ session, collaborating with Razer and Zouk to bring the experience of a club DJ set to homes. Some of the DJs included DJ Alexis Grace, DJ Sherry Alyssa and DJ Tipsy Man who provided users with music and fun ways to stay entertained,” Ong said.

Moving forward, he said the platform is expected to engage more people to watch online video content which is also a result of the rapid emergence of new technologies, as well as the shift towards online media consumption due to the new normal.

“Malaysia is one of our key markets for Bigo Live and we are constantly working to identify new growth opportunities here as we want to continue growing our user base.

“Because many people are seeking forms of interaction, entertainment and a sense of community from the comforts of their homes, we recognise the role we play and remain committed to bringing content that connects, inspires and engages the world,” Ong said.

The platform has so far benefitted many including 38-year-old Noor Hasnida Shafie, a broadcaster who calls herself Queen Needa on Bigo Live.

She told TMR that when she first started as a broadcaster in 2017, she would tell viewers about her personal life stories and did not restrict herself in the sharing.

“Most of it was regarding how I survived thus far, I wanted people to know the challenges and experiences I went through so others would feel less alone.

“I also recently decided to set up my own agency on the platform, called Queen Needa Legacy, where I focus on recruiting content creators who are keen to earn an income using this platform.

“I scout around for new independent talents like singers and entertainers who can inject something new into the current landscape,” she said.

Noor Hasnida said Bigo Live is very easy to use and the community is supportive and helpful at all times.

“Anyone with a smartphone and Internet connection can live-stream on the app. If you are willing to learn and explore new ways of communicating, you will be able to learn heaps.

“Agencies like mine also provide training and guidance to content creators, where they can learn both technical and soft skills on how to provide viewers with a great live-streaming experience, from the types of settings and microphone equipment to use, to conversational tips and communication skills,” she said.