On January 19th it was reported that the digital animated character VTuber would transform the current advertising, television news and entertainment industry because they could play celebrities, host concerts and promote products. The report notes that the number of virtual VTubers in Japan has surged in the past few years. There are more than 9,000 avatars, up from 200 at the start of 2018, according to User Local, a Tokyo-based analytics firm.
Hayashi, chief executive of Balus Productions, estimates that the market is now between $46.2million and $92.4 million and will reach $450 million in the next few years.
It is reported that the most popular VTuber can bring in hundreds of millions of yen (about millions of dollars) a year in revenue. The most famous VTuber is Kizuna Al, a young girl with a large pink ribbon in her hair and about 6 million followers on YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and Instagram.
KizunaAI was founded by Activ8, which also owns about 50 other VTubers. She hosts concerts, publishes video game reviews, releases photo albums, and appears in commercials and TV shows.
Behind the VTuber is motion-capture technology, where actors wear costumes with more than 50 sensors to animate the action.
The gaming company Gree has also developed an app called Reality, where anyone can choose the shape of their hair, hair, eyes and face to create their own avatars. Gree says the app allows users to express themselves without a face.
Fans at home can wear VR and get their avatars and others together to watch concerts, according to a VTuber management company.
Some well-known brands are beginning to discover the marketing power of VTuber, with Sandley Beer, Rohto Pharmaceuticals and e-commerce group DMM.com all creating their own virtual roles.
Tokyo TV even created a virtual news anchor called Yuuka Aiuchi, who appeared on the station’s news program to ask questions about the day’s coverage.