If you’re not exhausted by all your live video options, just wait.
YouTube finally rolled out live streaming from its mobile app Wednesday, but unlike Facebook and Twitter’s live offerings, the company is focusing initially on its top creators rather than one-off phenomenons like Chewbacca mom.
First announced mid-2016, live streaming from YouTube’s mobile app will now be available to users with more than 10,000 subscribers, Kurt Wilms, a product manager for YouTube Live, said at a media briefing. It will launch for all users in “the coming weeks.”
The company is also helping creators make money off live video. First flagged in January, YouTube’s Super Chat allows viewers to pay to have their comment highlighted on live video for a set period of time. The maximum amount “air time” on offer is five hours for A$500 (the same denomination in U.S. dollars).
Mobile live streaming and Super Chat have been tested in recent months with a few hundred creators. Based on the trial, YouTube slowed down live chat among other tweaks.
Super Chat has helped creators identify their top fans as well as building a new revenue feed during its beta test, said Barbara Macdonald, a YouTube Live product manager. She declined to share the details of its revenue sharing arrangements, but said “the creators are the vast majority share.”
Super Chat purchasing is supported on web and Android for those over 18, but not iOS.
Both features support YouTube’s immersive video push, which Wilms said was “a huge priority” for the company. Although it’s come late to mobile live streaming, Wilms added that year over year, the platform has more than four times the number of YouTube creators live streaming everyday.
Jayden Rodriguez, an Australian dancer and YouTuber with almost one million subscribers, was part of the mobile livestream beta test.
Rodriguez said he currently live streams around once a week and has found it helpful to film dance classes so users can send him questions or make song requests in real time. For the moment, his biggest problem is finding the best time of day to livestream for international audiences currently 2 a.m. AEST is the sweet spot.
He’s also had Super Chat from early 2017. He said fans are still learning about the product so far, most Super Chat purchases on his videos have been below A$10. He also earns money off his YouTube videos via ad revenue sharing.
“I’m just happy that I’m at the stage where I can do YouTube and it funds costuming, hiring dancers and getting myself over to other places like the Philippines to meet up with fans,” he said.
Of course, users have no shortage of places to consume live video streams or make their own on mobile these days. What will make YouTube’s play persuasive?
The company appears to be banking on viewers being persuaded by its top creators, who themselves will be enticed by additional revenue streams including Super Chat. Wilms suggested YouTube’s search and discovery features would also count in its favor.
“A lot of streaming platforms will let you go live, but after you’re live, your video will disappear,” he said. “With Youtube, after you’re done streaming, viewers can come watch the replay.” Similarly, YouTube’s search feature and video recommendations would help prolong the “shelf life” of live videos.
Rodriguez said he shared that view. Although he has a presence on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, he suggested they’re mostly useful for directing viewers to YouTube.
“All my videos are going to be in one place,” he said. “If they want to see live streams, it’s there. If they want to watch my dance videos, it’s all in the one place and that’s great for fans.”