Online livestreams are the thing right now.
Nowadays, in addition to companies that provide video hosting services, such as YouTube, many companies that provide social media services are implementing livestream features. Various types of livestreams such as video game commentary and those where the hosts chat randomly are gaining popularity from young generations. Why are livestreams so popular right now?
This time around, we visited Niconico Honsha, the antennae shop of “niconico”, which provides services like “Niconico Namahousou” (“Niconico livestreaming”), a Japanese livestream platform with the largest number of accesses in the country.
Niconico Honsha in Ikebukuro
■What is Niconico Namahousou?
Niconico Namahousou (“Niconico livestreaming”) was founded in 2007, as one of the services of niconico, and is the very first Japanese livestreaming site.
According to the “Fields Yoka Survey 2017”, held by the FRI every year, users of Niconico tend to be young men who are fond of new things.
Niconico Honsha is a complex facility located in Ikebukuro in Tokyo. So what kind of a place is it?
Nicocafe―collabing with Felissimo Nekobu
■Niconico Honsha, where the internet and real life merge
――What is Niconico Honsha?
Niconico Honsha is a complex facility with a cafe, merch store, satellite studio, and event area. It was originally located in Harajuku, but relocated to Ikebukuro in October of 2014 hoping to attract young women who could help start movements.
――So are there many female users?
Yes. However, it’s not just female users. We get many other types of users too, like foreigners traveling to Japan, students on school trips, and Niconico-douga(niconico’s video-sharing site) fans who visit when events are being held.
――What was the reason behind the creation of such a facility?
At Niconico, we strive to provide all kinds of experiences in which the internet and real life merge. The “Niconico Chou Kaigi”(niconico’s interactive offline event) is a good example.
The livestream bar counter in nicocafe offers a service called the “Achirano Okyakusama Service” ※2 where hosts can receive real presents from viewers during livestreams.
This is something that everyone including the host that receives the gift, the viewer that sends the gift, the waiter that brings the present over to the bar counter, the staff and customers of the cafe who are watching, and the other viewers, can enjoy together. It is a unique experience that you can only have at the bar counter.
※2 “Achirano Okyakusama System”
――Who uses the bar counter?
Most of the users are males in their 30s ~ 50s and young females.
Although generally it is place where users chit-chat, it is also a place where hosts can do livestreams before and after events, and where “Ria-totsu” (when people visit the host in person during their livestream) happens.
Livestream bar counter
■The appeal of the “bar-counter”
We were able to have a chat with “Chibita”, an avid user of the bar counter.
Chibita is a bright young lady with pigtails who claims to be 17 years old. She has been doing livestreams at Niconico Honsha for nearly 6 months.
――Why did you decide to start doing livestreams?
One of my co-workers at my part-time job recommended it. This person was also doing livestreams and coached me on how to do them.
――What was your very first livestream like?
I was very nervous, but the comments from my viewers provided me with a sense of comfort and helped me to continue talking till the very end. Can I brag a little? One of my viewers sent me a “Hardboiled Oolong”, which is a huge glass of oolong tea, during this very first livestream of mine! The “Hardboiled Oolong” is a “premium present “, which is an expensive present that people rarely get. These kinds of responses from my viewers make me very happy and motivate me to continue broadcasting.
――What are your livestreams usually like?
I usually talk about topics provided by my viewers. I report information about Niconico Honsha like how crowded it is at that moment and what events are being held.
When I run out of topics I just talk about myself.
――What is the appeal of the “bar counter” that sets it apart from other livestreaming services?
The appeal is that you can receive presents from your viewers.
Also, because viewers know you’re broadcasting at “Niconico Honsha”, they can come visit you during your livestream, which is called “Ria-totsu”. I love how people can actually meet and do stuff together.
Livestream host Chibita
■The future of Niconico Namahousou and Niconico Honsha
Lastly we asked about the future of Niconico Namahousou.
――The livestream bar counter currently only exists at Niconico Honsha. Do you plan on making more bar counters in different areas?
If we make them in more areas, it means more people can enjoy it, including those who find it difficult to access Niconico Honsha. So there is definitely a possibility that we will make more.
――There are many smartphone-based livestream services too, nowadays.
Niconico Namahousou has had many users from a time when smartphones were not as commonly used as they are now. Therefore, many users still broadcast from their computers. Some of our services are still inconvenient to users who are not used to computers, thus, we plan on making alterations in these areas in the future. We are planning a large-scale upgrade this Autumn.
Compared to edited videos, livestream mostly random chats and video game commentary, which are the types of content that help to foster communication. Niconico, who is good at activating interaction between users, succeeded in creating a unique service with the concept “the fusion of internet and real life”. We predict that other livestream services will follow suit and add new features that helps to foster communication.
※1：「Fields Yoka Survey 2017｣
An investigation based on web surveys that our company administered on December 2016. We asked 11,646 people (men and women), the youngest in their elementary school years and the oldest 69 years old, about actions and values regarding leisure.
Premium present: Hardboiled Oolong
Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment.
This article was written by a member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests observed in their daily lives.