In 2017, live streaming has exploded. News and entertainment have been consumed in real time as social-media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter promote the function as a core feature. Looking at the world through someone else’s eyes has become easily accessible and the new way to connect. The live streams that made headline news in 2016 from Social Media activists Evan Mawarire and Fadzayi Mahere to talk shows from Ruvheneko.
While doing research prior to writing this article about the future of the Facebook Live platform, I stumbled upon a Chinese site called YY, a social network. YY started as a gaming portal but has grown into a social communication platform that is a leader in live-streaming.
Apparently, the Chinese don’t need Facebook to gain traction, viewers or money. Some of the people in China are making thousands of dollars a month (legally), simply by streaming on live-stream apps from their bedroom.
Although live-streaming is popular many places, including Zimbabwe, the United States, China’s broadcasting boom, is bigger. About half of China’s 700 million Internet users have tried live-streaming apps that’s more than the population of the United States.
Live streaming is, however, more than just Big Brother or The X Factor. It’s all about host-audience interactions. Viewers, often in the tens of thousands at any one time, can send instant messages and virtual gifts to hosts, all of which stream across the screen in real time.
But, how can you make money live-streaming and is this even a realistic approach?
Making Money with Live Streaming
Advertising might seem like the way to make decent money while live-streaming, but you might not be able to do it depending on the platform.
Facebook Live and Periscope allow pre-roll and mid-roll ads on their live-streams, but it’s not available to just everyone (at the moment its US only) but it will be open to everyone soon, you’ll need a relatively large audience (300 viewers on FB Live, for example) before you’ll get the option to put ads in your streams.
Most YouTube channels make their money by volunteering to be part of Google’s Adsense, which pays. Again, this will be something will only come to a large channel, as YouTubers cannot make ad money until they reach 10,000-lifetime views.
Fan Donations and Subscriptions
One version of it on YouTube is Super Chat, which lets viewers pay a small fee to get their chat message pinned to the top of the comment section for a select amount of time.
There are also third-party donation processors out there to allow viewers to make larger donations directly to the streamer. Streamlabs — which works with YouTube, Mixer, Facebook Live, and Twitch — has the highest profile out of them.
One-time donations can do a lot for a streamer — for some streamers, it may be a primary source of income. But if you’re a regular streamer and you have a dedicated audience, you can open yourself to monthly subscriptions. These allow you to capitalize on a core audience for income without necessarily alienating newcomers.
Another way to make money from live broadcast is to sell advertising/Sponsored Ads. The ads appear in the lower thirds of your video or as clips before your broadcast begins and/or interrupting it like standard television commercials.