Internship Pressure and Demanding Work Hours Highlight Struggles Faced by Livestreamers in China
In a heartbreaking incident, a final-year student and avid video game streamer, identified by the surname Li, has been declared dead from possible exhaustion after a grueling five-night livestreaming marathon. Li was enrolled at Henan’s Pingdingshan Vocational and Technical College and had undertaken an internship with a Chinese media company, which was a requirement for his graduation slated for next June.
The young student was under contract to livestream for a staggering 240 hours within just 26 days, coupled with the task of uploading 15 short clips, all in pursuit of a minimum monthly salary of a mere 3000 yuan (£323). This intense schedule required Li to dedicate 38.4% of his time to livestreaming on top of managing his academic responsibilities and personal life.
Li’s housemates, who shared a rented home with him in Zhengzhou, discovered him unresponsive and breathing rapidly in his sleep. Concerned for his well-being, they promptly called an ambulance. According to livestream records obtained by a Chinese news outlet, Li had streamed continuously from 9 pm to 6 am in the five days leading up to his tragic death on November 10.
His father revealed that Li had been pressured to switch to night shifts in the hope of earning better tips. The media company, identified as Henan Yihui Culture Media, denied allegations of coercing Li into taking on these demanding hours. However, a company representative admitted that many livestreamers faced challenges in balancing work and personal life while employed by them.
The representative further contested the characterization of Li as an intern or formal employee, stating, ‘We provide the location and take a commission from his tips, and it’s just a simple cooperation.’ Despite the tragic circumstances, the company reportedly offered the grieving family a mere 5000 yuan (£555) as a humanitarian gesture. Any further compensation requests were directed to legal channels.
The bereaved father has not yet indicated whether he plans to pursue legal action against the company. However, he mentioned that the school his son attended had offered assistance and legal support. Additionally, he is in the process of applying for compensation through insurance companies, shedding light on the broader issues faced by livestreamers in China and the urgent need for industry reform.
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