If you were to ask who is paving the path for live video streaming on mobile, you may be surprised that the answer is not YouTube. Considering that they’ve supported live video since 2011, they are very late to the mobile party (and there ain’t no party like a mobile party).
Sure, you can turn on your webcam and start broadcasting your one-woman talk show straight from your desktop, but if you want to whip out your phone to live stream the birth of your baby nephew you best look elsewhere (and probably get permission first).
But with the growing adoption live streaming on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, YouTube is finally realizing that the live video hype isn’t going away anytime soon. Twitter’s Live Stream alone had 6.82 million unique viewers tune into Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration (the most live-streamed event in history).
Better late than never, YouTube announced yesterday that they are rolling out mobile live streaming. This new feature will be baked right into the YouTube mobile app allowing users to go live with the tap of a button. But before you go reaching for your phone, there is one caveat. For the initial release, YouTube is limiting mobile live streaming to creators with more than 10,000 subscribers. Sorry grandma, I’m going to need 9,999 more subscribers.
Connecting creators to their fans in real time appears to be YouTube’s motivation for the launch of live mobile video. In addition to mobile live streaming, YouTube also announced the launch of Super Chat. Super Chat will serve as a monetization tool for live video. Creators can earn revenue during their live streams by allowing viewers to purchase colorful chat messages that stay pinned to the top of the chat window for up to five hours.
But capturing the attention of a beloved YouTube star can cost you. Prices are determined by how long you choose to have your chat message displayed. Ultimate VIP status, consisting of a 350 character message with 5 hours on the ticker, will set you back $500 (which is the sitewide daily limit).
YouTube has stated that mobile video streaming will eventually be released to everyone but they have not specified when. Most likely, YouTube will be using this limited release to learn how creators use the new feature and how their audience responds so that they can make tweaks as they go. It is also probably a precautionary move considering the size of YouTubes user base and the amount of bandwidth it takes to stream live video.