Live-streaming is one of the hottest topics in web video; but while services such as Meerkat and the Twitter-owned Periscope command most of the attention right now, it should be noted that user-generated live-streaming has been happening on the web for quite some time now.
Case in point: YouNow, which has been around since 2012. Unlike its newest competitors, YouNow is also able to help its creators generate revenue, with some high-end talent earning as much as $10,000 per month on the platform. Overall, the company says $1 million per month flow through its service every month, and it’s working with online stars such as singer Shawn Mendes and Vine comedian Andrew Bachelor (King Bach).
We sat down with YouNow founder Adi Sideman to talk about YouNow, the growing live-streaming business, and how it helps creators “broadcast” to their fans.
What was the original inspiration behind YouNow?
To create a community and make a new entertainment platform available. The goal was to create a true interactive TV experience; a place where people could share their thoughts and talents, and express themselves.
Though YouNow launched back in September 2012, it didn’t seem to get much traction until more recently. Could you describe that process of it picking up? In other words, what kind of user growth patterns did you see on the platform?
Live streaming is the hot topic of the moment. The combination of everyone with a camera in their pocket and social distribution has resulted in an explosion of user- generated live streaming.
YouNow is a four-year-old company that has built a passionate community where gamification creates a way for the audience to interact with the broadcaster and for the broadcaster to earn money.
YouNow now clocks 100 million user sessions/month — 130,000 unique broadcasts or 35,000 hours each day. And, over $1 million per month flows through the system.
What most distinguishes YouNow from live-streaming platforms like Meerkat and Periscope?
YouNow is a network of over a quarter billion fan relationships on its own graph. It is not a utility but a destination site. Game dynamics drive engagement and the users are the ones curating the network. YouNow’s teen demographic is an extremely engaged audience and there is a thriving, native business model.
How would you compare YouNow to Twitch?
Twitch is specifically for gamers. YouNow is for anyone who has something to share — whether it’s music, dance, art, poetry or their thoughts, i.e. Brent Morgan, Snowmartie, Mr. Cashier.
Do you think there’s room in the live-streaming environment for all of these different platforms to exist and be profitable together? Do you think one will ultimately have to win out and become the live-streaming platform people use?
We believe that there is room for everyone in the evolving live-streaming space. We are delighted to see so much activity in a space we have been operating in for years. These companies significantly contribute to live-streaming being embraced by large swaths of society. Now my mother knows all about live-streaming. The more widespread it is, the more it democratizes access to previously unavailable publishing channels.
How does YouNow, and how do creators on YouNow monetize through the platform?
YouNow broadcasters make money when the audience interacts with them through virtual goods.
The audience can chat for free or buy virtual goods to support the artist and amplify their own status. Virtual goods include highlighted chat messages, boosts to help the broadcaster trend and reach a larger audience, and tips.
For the audience, gifts and tips help them become part of the show, establish status, and stand out from the crowd. For the content partner, they experience immediate feedback and revenues. A cash earnings report is delivered to the content creator as soon as the broadcast is concluded.
One big difference from YouTube is that the currency being exchanged between broadcaster and audience members is direct and interactive. There’s no intermediary.
YouNow partners are looking to the platform as another form of revenue often adding it to their broadcasts on Vine or YouTube. Partners are regularly earning thousands of dollars a month.