Title: The Impact of Audience Size on Viewer Engagement in Live Streaming: Evidence from a Field Experiment
Speaker: Dai Yao, National University of Singapore
Time: Wednesday, June 28, 13:30-15:00
Place: Room 217, Guanghua Building 2
Live streaming is an important social channel that is steadily rising and attracts numerous content generators and consumers. A novel function of live streaming is that viewers can send paid gifts to engage with broadcasters instantaneously during a session, in addition to traditional free engagement activities such as liking and chatting. In this paper, we examine the impact of audience size on viewer participation, as well as viewers’ various engagement activities during live streaming events. Based on results from a randomized controlled field experiment run on a popular live streaming platform in China, we identify and provide consistent evidence for an inverted U-shaped causal relationship between the audience size and the gifting behavior. This can be explained by two offsetting effects of audience size: a larger audience increases the value of image-related utility and, therefore, encourages gifting; and a larger audience can also reduce an individual’s incentive of gifting because of intensified competition for a broadcaster’s attention. For engagement activities that lack an image-related utility, such as chatting, we find only a negative effect of audience size. We also obtain evidence for the positive impact of audience size on viewer participation and the substitution between costly and costless engagement activities. We discuss the implications of our findings for platforms’ susceptibility to fraudulent behaviors in live streaming, and the potential tradeoff between the short-term and the long-term profits faced by broadcasters.
Dr. Dai Yao is an assistant professor of marketing at the National University of Singapore Business School. He received his PhD in Management from INSEAD in 2014, Master of Science in Operations Management from Singapore Management University in 2009, and Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science and Technology from Tsinghua University in 2006. His research examines consumer and firm behavior in various business contexts, most of which are enabled by new technologies and new transactional relationships, such as social media and network-mediated environment, sharing economy, consumer financing, mobile games, mobile shopping, car rental, online labour markets, and crowdsourcing, among others. His research has published in top marketing and management journals. Prior to academia, he had extensive working experience in high-tech research institutes and companies such as Microsoft Research Asia, Netease, and Infosys during 2004-2007.
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