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全民直播

本期导读

现下直播行业可谓蒸蒸日上,不仅有明星跟你谈天说地,展示做饭、唱歌、十八般武艺,更多普通人也加入直播大军,他们也说学逗唱,时不时还来点黄段子,最火的主播一年能赚几百万美元,中国的直播行业还真是不简单。

正文

本文选自 The Economist

译者:杨    阳

校对:张力文

策划:唐可可


Life is but a stream

全民直播


A new way of bringing colour to dreary lives

点亮暗淡生活的新方式


LAST YEAR ZHAO XINLONG, aged 25, and his wife and baby boy moved from his parents’ farm into a mid-rise apartment in town. It has been a tough adjustment. Luan County is a rustbelt community on the polluted outskirts of the steel city of Tangshan in north-east China. Mr Zhao’s monthly income from driving a taxi has plummeted by more than half in the past couple of years, and he has not found it easy to make friends in his new abode.

去年,25岁的赵新龙(音译)离开父母家的农舍,带着妻子和出生不久的儿子搬到镇上的中层楼房里。适应新的生活并非易事。赵新龙居住的滦县位于钢铁重镇唐山市郊,这里污染严重,十分衰败。几年里,赵新龙开出租车的收入骤减,还不到原来的一半,并且他觉得来到镇上后也很难认识新朋友。


But when he gets online in the evening, he becomes a different person: Zhao Long’er, an entertainer. Using Kuaishou, a Chinese video-sharing and live-streaming app, he broadcasts to a live audience of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of fellow Chinese every night. Taken together, they add up to more than 100,000. Many of them are diaosi, people who mockingly identify themselves as losers in dead-end jobs. Online he can relate to them, telling them stories, dirty jokes, whatever is on his mind.

但是到了晚上,赵新龙摇身一变,成为化名“赵龙儿”(音译)的网红。利用视频分享和直播软件 “快手”,他每晚会对着数百名观众直播,有时观众可达数千人。他的观众加起来有十万多人,其中大多是“屌丝”(很多工作没有前途、认为自己很失败的人会用这个称呼自嘲)。“赵龙儿”跟他们脾气相投,给他们讲故事,讲黄段子,想到什么说什么。


Occasionally advertisers pay him small sums to put commercials out over his stream, including things like weight-loss products and “gold” jewellery from Vietnam. Most of his followers are also from north-east China. They chat with him online and sometimes give him digital stickers representing things like a beer that fans buy online and can be converted into cash. The individual amounts are usually small, but they add up. Live-streaming his life earns Mr Zhao about $850 a month, twice as much as his day job.

有时候广告商会给赵新龙一笔小钱,让他在直播里给减肥产品、越南金饰(译者注:黄金含量很低)等商品做广告。他的粉丝大多也来自中国东北,他们和他聊天,送他虚拟啤酒这样可以换成现金的礼物。每个粉丝赠送的礼物不值多少钱,但加起来金额就很可观了。赵新龙每月通过直播可赚850美元左右,相当于他白天工资的两倍。


Twinkle, twinkle, little stars

一闪一闪小明星


The internet has amplified people’s interest in the world’s biggest stars, helping their fans feel a little closer to them, thanks to social media. But it has also made it possible for anybody to become a little star in their own corner of the universe, connecting intimately with subsets of fans. In much of the rest of the world the most popular of these are teen idols on YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. Most people over 25 would struggle to name a YouTube star other than possibly PewDiePie, a Swedish gamer with a global following of more than 50m.

网络增加了人们对大明星的兴趣,让粉丝得以通过社交媒体接近明星。但同时,它还让每个人都有机会成为自己那一方天地里的小明星,并与自己的粉丝亲密互动。在世界其他地区,最火的小明星往往是YouTube、Instigram和Snapchat上的青少年偶像。但对于大多数25岁以上的人来说,除了拥有5000万粉丝的瑞典游戏玩家PewDiePie之外,他们难以说出其他YouTube网红的名字。 


China’s craze for personal live-streaming runs far deeper, into third-tier cities and remote rural areas where the internet is the one and only fun and cheap place to hang out. These personal broadcasts are not simply videos that fans watch, but more interactive experiences. The fans make requests, chat with their idols and give them virtual gifts. Many of those watching are small-time live-streamers themselves. They are turning each other into mass entertainment.

而在中国,直播热深入到了三线城市和偏远乡村。在那些地方,互联网是唯一一个又有趣又便宜的娱乐方式。粉丝们看直播,不光有录像,还能跟主播互动。他们会向主播提要求,跟主播聊天,还会送出虚拟礼物。很多观众自己也做小主播。他们相互追捧,成为大众娱乐的一部分。


It is a big and growing business. China’s live-streaming industry more than doubled in size last year, with revenues of around $3bn, according to Credit Suisse, a bank. More than 100 companies now offer the service, providing the platform for performers in exchange for a hefty cut of their earnings (one, YY, is publicly listed on NASDAQ, with $269m in gross revenues from live-streaming in the third quarter of last year, a year-on-year rise of more than 50%). That compares with box-office receipts for the Chinese film business, the world’s second-largest, of $7bn last year. Of the 710m people with internet connections in China, nearly half have used livestreaming apps. Many in the audience are diaosi looking for free entertainment and sometimes a substitute for romance. Women outnumber men as live-streamers, but most of the audiences are male. The government has imposed guidelines aimed mostly at the seamier side of the business, like the erotic eating of bananas (now banned). The most successful live-streamers tend to be attractive young singers of either sex, who can sometimes muster millions of fans. The most popular of them earn more than $1m a year, almost all of it from virtual gifts, but most of them are lucky to see a few hundred dollars a month, broadcasting anything from eating meals to visual pranks to warbling tunes requested by fans. Mr Zhao laments that to boost his earnings, he has to tell more dirty jokes.

直播是个蒸蒸日上的大产业。据瑞信银行(Credit Suisse)的报告显示,去年中国直播行业规模扩大了一倍多,产值约达30亿美元。现在有100多家公司提供直播服务,它们给主播提供平台,从他们的收入中抽取高额分成(其中,已在纳斯达克上市的YY公司去年直播业务的毛收入为2.69亿美元,同比增长超过50%)。中国直播业收入可与电影票房媲美,中国电影业规模位居世界第二,收入达70亿美元。中国的7.1亿网民中,近半数都安了直播软件。许多直播观众都是“屌丝”,他们想不花钱寻个乐子,或是求个情感寄托。主播中女性居多,但观众大多数是男性。政府出台了管控直播平台淫秽内容的指导政策,比如禁止挑逗性地“吃香蕉”这种行为。最成功的主播往往是年轻有魅力的男女歌手,他们的粉丝有时能达数百万人。最火的主播年收入逾百万美元(几乎全部来自于收取虚拟礼物),不过大部分主播一个月能赚几百美元就不错了。他们直播的内容什么都有,应粉丝要求,他们会直播吃饭、恶作剧或者表演颤音。赵新龙伤感地说,为了多赚点钱,他不得不多讲黄段子。


Live-streaming emerged in China after the financial crisis of 2007-08, as internet companies with questionable business models looked for a way to survive. Six Rooms, or6.cn, may have been the first to offer live-streaming as a service for a mass audience. It was one of numerous YouTube-like video-sharing businesses (YouTube itself is blocked in China) burning money in 2008 and failed to secure a new round of funding. In desperation its CEO and co-founder, Liu Yan, turned to live-streaming.

中国的直播行业出现在2007-2008年金融危机之后,那时候商业模式有争议的互联网公司正寻求出路。“六间房”应该是第一个向大众提供直播服务的平台。“六间房”是众多类似YouTube的视频分享网站之一(YouTube本身在中国被禁止)。2008年,该平台在经历巨额亏损后没能获得新一轮融资,情急之下,“六间房”的创始人兼首席执行官刘岩决定转型做直播。


In 2007 Mercedes-Benz, a carmaker, had paid 300,000 yuan ($39,000) to his site to live-stream an event, and his company had developed an inexpensive way to provide such a service on a wider scale to allow people to chat with each other and exchange virtual gifts. That helped make personal broadcasting a social game which could be monetised in a way not replicated on major social platforms of the West. In China, as well as in South Korea and Japan, where live-streaming has also caught on, virtual items have long had an underlying monetary value.

2007年,奔驰公司向“六间房”支付30万元(约3.9万美元)来直播一场活动。后来,“六间房”开发了低成本途径来将直播服务扩大,让人们可以聊天、交换虚拟礼物,进而使个人直播成为社交游戏,其盈利模式在西方主流社交平台上无法实现。在中国、还有直播同样流行的日韩,虚拟物品早就隐含了货币价值。


Now that the business model has been proven, all the Chinese internet giants have entered the live-streaming business. Pioneers like YY and Six Rooms must compete with bigger social platforms like Tencent. Six Rooms was acquired by a Chinese entertainment conglomerate for close to $400m in 2015, but Mr Liu, 44, remains the CEO. He has been using machine learning to work out what kinds of live-streamers inspire the most devotion from fans and get the most virtual gifts, down to preferences for facial features, tone of voice and regional provenance. He plans to unveil an even more ambitious effort soon: hired performers whose traits are determined, and perhaps enhanced, by machine learning. At this rate, life on the long tail of entertainment may start getting more difficult for rustbelt dreamers.

看到直播的商业模式行得通,中国所有网络巨头都进入了这个产业。像YY和“六间房”等先驱必须和腾讯这样的大型网络平台竞争。2015年,“六间房”被中国的一家娱乐集团以4亿美元收购,但44岁的刘岩仍担任首席执行官。刘岩利用机器学习技术研究观众对主播脸部特征、语调和地域的喜好,试图找出最吸粉、收到礼物最多的主播类型。他还计划进行更加宏伟的计划:雇佣具有机器学习技术得出的特征的主播,并且经过机器学习的反馈让他们不断强化这些特征。照这样发展下去,在娱乐行业金字塔底端的落后地区主播将越来越难生存。



外媒简介


《经济学人》是一份由伦敦经济学人报纸有限公司出版的杂志,风格机智,幽默,有力度,严肃又不失诙谐,并且注重于如何在最小的篇幅内告诉读者最多的信息。


杂志关注的新闻广泛涉及政治、商业、金融、科技和艺术等领域。杂志中所有文章都不署名,但又处处用事实说话。相比较于其他国内外语报纸,它的态度更客观,视角更宽,在全球范围内的精英人士中享有独一无二的地位。


学习笔记


【重点词汇】


【plummet】 v. 大坡度或快速落下

Mr Zhao’s monthly income from driving a taxi has plummeted by more than half in the past couple of years, and he has not found it easy to make friends in his new abode.

几年里,赵新龙开出租车的收入骤减,还不到原来的一半,并且他觉得来到镇上后也很难认识新朋友。


【hefty】adj. 大量的; 可观的

 More than 100 companies now offer the service, providing the platform for performers in exchange for a hefty cut of their earnings.

现在有100多家公司提供直播服务,它们给主播提供平台,从他们的收入中抽取高额分成。


【receipt】n.(营业)收到的款项,收入

That compares with box-office receipts for the Chinese film business, the world’s second-largest, of $7bn last year. 

中国直播业收入可与电影票房媲美,中国电影业规模位居世界第二,收入达70亿美元。


【知识拓展】


【机器学习技术】是指计算机不通过编程,自行进行学习,处理数据,并得出相应结论。比如“阿尔法狗”通过研究多场人类对弈、人机对弈或机器对弈棋局,进行学习,并且掌握这门技术。



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