YouTube is finally ready for its live mobile closeup.
The Google-owned video network will open up live mobile streaming to more users on Tuesday, competing with Facebook and Periscope, and it’s offering the folks who make videos for YouTube a hefty cut of the ad revenues.
“This is their home,” says Kurt Wilms, a YouTube product manager. “This is where their fans are.”
YouTube creators already participate in a 55%-45% ad split for regular videos. Live will offer another opportunity for advertising support, and users with a certain number of followers will get the same majority cut of ad revenues.
Mobile is “one click away” and a great way for the large group of an estimated 100,000 YouTube video creators to communicate with their audiences, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki told USA TODAY last June. That’s when it announced plans to release mobile live streaming to its app, the 7th-most downloaded app on the iTunes app chart.
The YouTube app has been updated to allow for live video streaming to any YouTube creator with over 10,000 subscribers. YouTube says it will open it to the entire community, any user that sets up a channel for advertising-share revenue, later in the year, but didn’t give an exact timetable. YouTube had allowed in “hundreds” from its network of influencers to test out the mobile app since the summer.
One of them is Clintus McGintus, the stage name for Clint Comer, a Phoenix-area dad who has amassed nearly 300 million views for his chronicles of family life and a love of gaming on his Clintus.tv YouTube channel
“A lot more YouTubers are going to start doing more live streams now that it’s more available to them,” he says. “If they can pull the phone out of their pocket and start going live, there is more potential for revenue. When this becomes your business, it drives a lot of the decisions you make.”
Facebook opened up live broadcasting to the general public in 2016, and paid tens of millions of dollars to media organizations and celebrities to go live on the social network. But to date, Facebook has yet to expand revenue sharing to the millions of homegrown filmmakers and personalities that YouTube has fostered.
YouTube hasn’t put a dollar figure on the amount of money these “millions” of creators make each year, but Forbes recently said that from 2015-2016, the top 10 YouTube earners reaped over $70 million. That includes $15 million for PewDiePie, $8 million for no. 2 Roman Atwood and $7.5 million for Lilly Singh.
Danny Fratella, managing editor of Social Blade, a blog that covers online video, says Facebook will have to respond to YouTube. “If they want some of the bigger publishers to stay on their platform, they’re going to have to monetize them. The average Joe won’t switch from Facebook to YouTube, but the creators will.”
Facebook had no comment, except to point out that it’s working with a select group of partners on testing ad breaks in their live broadcasts.
YouTube has been offering live video streams since 2011, but only via the computer, not a mobile device, and thus, “many creators never bothered with it,” Fratello adds. “It was too clunky.”
Now, on the app, you click the camera icon atop, and have a choice of recording a video on your smartphone, or going live.
“Mobile is everything,” says McGintus. “If I can do anything from mobile, all the better.”
On the app, click live, type in a title for the broadcast, take a snapshot for the thumbnail and click live–your subscribers all get a notification that you’re broadcasting.
Facebook has heavily pushed its Live product to its 1.8 billion users. An open question is whether many people are really watching, says Joshua Cohen, the founder of TubeFilter, a Los Angeles-based blog that covers online video.
“Local TV stations are using it effectively,” he says. “Facebook is encouraging everyone to go live at any given moment, but it’s difficult to say how that’s playing out.”
Pay to get your comments noticed
Beyond the ad share revenue, YouTube also introduces another way for YouTubers to make money with a new feature called SuperChat. It lets fans jump to the front of the line and pay to have their comments at the top of the page.
This is similar to “tip” features on other sites like YouNow and Live.me. McGintus says he gave it a try two weeks ago while walking around a Target store, “and I made $900 in 30 minutes.”
The Merrell Twins, two college-age performers in the Los Angeles-area, were going on YouNow and reaping in the tips, but now they’ve switched to YouTube.
“The difference is the amount of viewers,” says Veronica Merrell. “You get a lot more on YouTube. And the nice thing is, anyone who missed it can go back and watch the replay.”
Meanwhile, among the top two live contenders—Facebook and YouTube, Fratella doesn’t think the dynamic will change greatly.
YouTube’s live streaming will be existing YouTube creators, “because that’s where their audience is,” while casual viewers will stick with Facebook Live and newcomer Instagram, whose live broadcasts are less polished and aimed at friends, like on the Snapchat app, he says.
Nick Mattingly, who runs the Switcher app for live broadcasting, made an interesting comment about YouTube vs. Facebook on our Facebook page.
Facebook’s expertise at notifications makes it great for live, and potentially a challenge for YouTube. “People literally “live” on Facebook which makes it easy to notify when people go live,” he says. “Meanwhile YouTube historically is more geared toward searchable content and viewers go to YouTube with a predetermined “intent”.”