Livestreamer Li Jiaqi to join Call Me by Fire amid 618 “difficulties”

As the 618 shopping festival commences, Austin Li Jiaqi has returned to the spotlight with generous “red envelope” vouchers on his livestream channel. However, the once top livestreamer that caught the attention of netizens faces difficulties, as he admits the shopping festival will be hard this year but he is up for the challenge.

On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, the topic “Li Jiaqi says this 618 will be difficult”  (#李佳琦称今年618大促是难的#) topped the Hot Search list with a whopping 270 million views. However, netizens mostly responded to the admission with ridicule, referring to his outburst over the “eyebrow pencil gate” on a Florasis livestream last year, asking Li to look at himself and consider if he had “worked hard enough”. But despite admitting difficulty, the GMV on the first day of Li’s 618 beauty sales reached 2.6 billion RMB (359 million USD), nearly double of the International Women’s Day sales this year.

A few days later, news broke that Li would be joining the fourth season of the popular variety TV show Call Me by Fire (披荆斩棘的哥哥), a spin-off of the viral show Sisters that Make Waves. The show usually features veteran male celebrities competing against each other through talents such as singing, dancing and musical instruments. The topic “Li Jiaqi responds to joining CMbF” (#李佳琦回应参加披哥#) shot to number 4 on the Hot Search list on Weibo with 190 million views. The viral response is a video where Li bluntly admits that he was in it for the money, to “earn red envelopes” for fans.

Li has been having a tough few months since the Florasis affair with scrutiny from authorities and consumers alike. Platforms are moving away from top streamers which explains why they are stepping into other ventures such as Crazy Little Brother Yang’s festival and Li’s coffee shop. However, we see more creative use of streamers such as buyer streaming from Xiaohongshu since last year and virtual humans from earlier this year. Also, JD seems to have found a “working man’s Li Jiaqi” called Little Brother Li, who made it to number 2 on the Weibo Hot Search list with the topic “Li Jiaqi don’t have to be difficult this 618”.


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