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As virtual idols become increasingly popular, companies are racing to gain a foothold in the market
A virtual idol is an online entertainer whose rendered avatar performs on websites, social platforms, and even concert stages. Virtual idols are different from animated characters because they can engage in a wide range of activities, just like human performers. They can be the subject of music videos, photo shoots, and other forms of media content to organically form a fanbase.
Of late, the virtual idol industry has found its bearings. The industry comprises not only software developers, but also content creators and artists as well. The rapid development of new technology also means that there are now myriad ways, such as livestreamed entertainment and e-commerce plugs, to monetize these idols. The maturation of speech synthesis, image recognition, and motion capture even enables consumers to socialize with their virtual idols online. Content creators now have the tools to forge idols with evergrowing appeal.
The industry has also gotten a leg up since the outbreak of COVID-19. As more people choose to or need to stay at home, the “otaku” label—referring to a person with an obsessive interest in anime and manga at the expense of social skills—has lost some of its pejorative connotations. Virtual idols, which were previously associated with otaku culture, are now becoming mainstream across commercial advertisements, reality television shows, and music videos, making them a magnet for capital investment. And for good reason with some of theses shows and concerts garnering millions of views. Meanwhile, new business solutions made possible by innovative technologies have also substantially reduced the costs to maintain virtual idols’ presence, lowering the bar for the industry’s new entrants.
Click here and read on to find out what top players such as Bilibili, iQiyi, Tencent and Alibaba are doing to gain their turf and who are the investors getting a head-start in this growing niche.