Musical.ly’s Live.ly Is Now Bigger Than Twitter’s Periscope on iOS (Study)

Live-streaming Live.ly app, just three months old, continues to build momentum

live.ly logo
Courtesy of musical.ly

Three months after its launch, Live.ly, the live-streaming video app from Musical.ly, has captured nearly 4.6 million monthly active users on Apple’s iOS platform in the U.S. — making the teen-girl-skewing service bigger today on iPhones than Twitter’s Periscope, which has about 4.3 million on iOS, according to data from SurveyMonkey Intelligence.

Given that Musical.ly launched the Android version of Live.ly on Sept. 12, it looks poised to jump into the lead among standalone streaming apps. So far there hasn’t been enough usage of the Android version to build a statistically accurate sample, according to SurveyMonkey marketing manager Mike Sonders. Periscope has 1.2 million monthly active users on Android.

[UPDATE, Oct. 3: Periscope co-founder and CEO Kayvon Beykpour said in a tweet that the SurveyMonkey Intelligence numbers are “not even in the realm of accurate,” but he declined to provide any figures for Periscope’s monthly active unique users. In March 2016, Twitter claimed that over 200 million broadcasts had been created on Periscope since the app launched a year earlier and that nearly 1 million hours of live video are watched every day on iOS and Android.]

Live.ly’s quick uptake has come virtually entirely from Musical.ly’s base of 100 million-plus users of its flagship lip-syncing sharing app. The company made a splash a VidCon in July to introduce the new app, which lets anyone broadcast live video from their smartphone (a la Periscope).

Of apps released in the past six months on both iOS and Android, only Pokemon Go has garnered more monthly active users — with more than 31 million — than Live.ly in the U.S., according to Survey Monkey Intelligence. Besides steering Musical.ly fans to the app, Live.ly has been helped by early adopters including Jason Derulo, Cameron Dallas and Musical.ly star Jacob Sartorius.

SurveyMonkey Intelligence collects its data from a panel of over 1.5 million iOS and Android smartphone users, designed to be statistically representative of smartphone users in the U.S., who have agreed to let the company aggregate their app usage.

Live.ly has room to grow: So far, only 33% of Musical.ly users also use the Livel.ly app, according to SurveyMonkey. (The research firm does not track Facebook Live usage, because it’s not a separate app, and Facebook has not disclosed overall usage metrics for live-streaming on its platform.)

Another player in the live-streaming race, YouNow, has about 1.4 million monthly active users on iOS. YouNow may have lost share with the rise of Live.ly especially biggest given the biggest user cohort for both services is white teenage girls, according to SurveyMonkey.

Still, Live.ly faces challenges, including whether it can expand its user base beyond the teen-girl segment where it’s proved enormously popular. And it’s worth noting that Live.ly churn rates have been fairly high: An average of about 27% of the app’s users in any given week will not show up the following week. On the other hand, Periscope’s comparable churn rate is 55% and YouNow is about 50%) on iOS.

Since its initial launch, the iOS version of Live.ly has added a “virtual gift system” that lets users purchase animated stickers for their favorite broadcasters, and that revenue is being shared with creators, according to the company.

Live.ly average revenue per daily active user from in-app purchases is 0.8 cents, according to SurveyMonkey Intelligence. That’s better than Musical.ly’s 0.3 cents, but both of those are far short of YouNow, which earns 11.5 cents per daily active user. Periscope, for now, doesn’t offer in-app purchases but in early September, Twitter rolled out the first program for ad-sponsored live-streams with former tennis pro Andy Roddick.

Musical.ly was founded in 2014 by friends Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang. Musical.ly, based in Shanghai with U.S. offices in San Francisco, has raised about $16 million from investors including GGV Capital and Greylock Partners and is seeking to raise a $100 million round, according to TechCrunch.