Would you pay YouTube $500 to leave a comment?

Angus Kidman 13 January 2017

YouTubeSample

The video giant's Super Chat money-making scheme is, er, unusual.

Most people who run YouTube channels make their money from advertising and sponsorships. But now there's another strange option for them: having viewers pay money so that the comments they leave during live YouTube events are more visible.

YouTube today announced that it has begun beta testing Super Chat, which is essentially a cash-for-comment service. "Anybody watching a YouTube live stream can purchase a Super Chat: a highlighted message in the chat stream that stands out from the crowd to get even more of your favorite creator’s attention," YouTube's announcement explains. In some ways it's a version of paying for a meet-and-greet session after a concert.

But there's a twist: the more money you pay, the longer your comment remains prominent. $9.99 gets you 2 minutes of prominence. If you're certifiably insane, you can pay $500 to have your comment visible to everyone for 5 hours. Here's the full pricing table for Australia. No, I don't know why anyone would want to pay for the "0 seconds" versions either.

Purchase amount (AUD)ColourMax. message lengthMax. time in the ticker
$ 1.00 - 1.99Blue0 characters0 seconds
$ 2.00 - 4.99Light blue50 characters0 seconds
$ 5.00 - 9.99Green150 characters2 minutes
$ 10.00 - 19.99Yellow200 characters5 minutes
$ 20.00 - 49.99Orange225 characters10 minutes
$ 50.00 - 99.99Magenta250 characters30 minutes
$ 100.00 - 199.99Red270 characters1 hour
$ 200.00 - 299.99Red290 characters2 hours
$ 300.00 - 399.99Red310 characters3 hours
$ 400.00 - 499.99Red330 characters4 hours
$500.00Red350 characters5 hours

YouTube is beta testing the concept with a handful of popular YouTube creators. A broader launch is planned on 31 January, when Super Chat will be available for creators in 20 countries (including Australia). Initially, you'll be able to buy Super Chat comments on computers or in the Android app. iOS is not currently supported, and I'd guess the reason is that Google (YouTube's owner) doesn't want to have to give 30% of purchase revenue to Apple.

I'm an angry and bitter old man, so I can't imagine coughing up $5 just to leave a comment as tedious as "Love your live-streams! Thanks for streaming", which is the example YouTube is showing off. But that doesn't mean the concept might not catch on amongst "YouTube natives".

One concept that apparently didn't catch on was Fan Funding, YouTube's take on crowd funding which let viewers give money directly to their favourite creators. That is being killed off from 28 February, and sign-ups have already stopped.

The most popular content on YouTube isn't live streams; given the choice, we prefer professionally produced comedy. But I'm not going to begrudge anyone the chance to try and make money, however weird the concept.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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