- Periscope, the live-streaming application run by Twitter, added a feature on Wednesday that lets viewers show appreciation for their favorite personalities on the platform and gives publishers another way to make money, according to a blog post by the company. Periscope's Super Hearts is the platform's first paid virtual gift product, which creates a sales-sharing program for U.S.-based live streamers.
- Since the platform launched, Periscope has let viewers click on a heart icon to express that they like a broadcast. Viewers can now purchase Super Hearts that include animations and even the gifter’s account image to show their support on a new level. A leader board tracks the Super Hearts contributors during a broadcast, urging them to give more money to earn a higher ranking.
- Periscope now sells three kinds of Super Hearts to users who buy the app-specific currency. They start at 33 coins each — 1,050 coins cost $0.99 — with rebates for users who buy bigger coin packages. Google and Apple get a cut of the sales, while Twitter collects 70% of the remaining revenue, leaving 30% for the live-streamers, according to Variety. Content creators who don’t want to earn Super Hearts can block the feature from their broadcasts.
Twitter is making a bigger push into video, and Periscope is a key part of building viewership. Video content is one of the most popular topics among social media users, according to Forbes. Three of the top 10 trending topics on Twitter in 2016 were about televised events: Game of Thrones, the European Soccer Championships and the Olympics. While Twitter is mostly a text-based social media platform, its users often discuss topics on a second screen using visual tools like Periscope.
The Periscope news suggests Twitter may be looking to lure creators away from YouTube. The move to monetize content comes at a particularly vulnerable time for YouTube, a long-time juggernaut in digital video, with top creators earning millions of dollars per year. However, earlier this year marketers started pulling ads from YouTube over fears of their messaging appearing next to hate speech or other content that could reflect unfavorable on a brand, a problem that does not appear to be dissipating. This development along with steps taken by YouTube to address brands concerns have resulted in creators earning less money. Amazon's Twitch platform appears to be trying to woo creators considering leaving YouTube or looking for ways to supplement their income.
Twitter is an amazing real-time communication tool that draws millions of users during times of collective social experience, such as elections, major sporting events, natural disasters and conflicts. But the company has struggled to monetize its growing audience and reverse a decline in sales. In the last quarter, Twitter said monthly active users grew 3% from the prior three months to 328 million, better than forecasts for 321 million. But revenue fell 7.8% from a year earlier to $548 million.
It remains to be seen how much money Periscope will bring to Twitter via paid gifts to content creators. The virtual coin program is part of Twitter’s campaign to make Periscope more popular among publishers and attractive to marketers. In March, Twitter released the Periscope Producer API, which allows users to post and stream live videos directly on the platform using third party equipment, the company said in a blog post. Twitter added an analytics dashboard to Periscope and an Activity Tab that make it easier for publishers to track audience activity and engagement. This year, Twitter also began selling pre-roll ads for some Periscope videos, which suggests a push toward attracting advertisers and boosting revenue.