In China, young women like 23-year-old Huan Huan can earn up to $20,000 a month livestreaming themselves just doing regular things. That’s about 30 times more than the average college graduate makes at their first job.
For everyday activities like eating and going to the gym, mostly male viewers give Huan Huan virtual gifts that get converted into cash. In China, which banned online porn in 2000, PG-rated livestreaming has become a $4 billion-a-year industry with nearly 350 million followers — more than the entire population of the United States.
The booming phenomenon has left the government scrambling to keep up. It’s impossible to censor what’s being streamed live. Platforms and livestreamers are now required to self-censor their content to obtain a license from the state, and those who don’t abide by the rules could be banned from livestreaming permanently.
VICE News traveled to Wuhan, China, to a converted karaoke club that now has more than 50 livestreaming rooms to find out how the business works.
This segment originally aired Oct. 17, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.