While Periscope and Meerkat may be better known for the time being, the most “radical” live-streaming video social platform might just be YouNow, a social platform founded four years ago that recently announced it has raised $15 million in a new round of funding.
One thing that sets YouNow apart is that, unlike its better-known counterparts, it imposes no limits on the length of the live streaming video broadcast: you could theoretically start a YouNow session and broadcast the rest of your life (which I’m sure someone is already doing as an exercise in avant garde performance art weirdness). Other unique features include real-time interaction with viewers through chat rooms. Viewers can also buy a range of virtual goods to support and interact with their favorite broadcasters.
YouNow founder and CEO Adi Sideman tells TechCrunch that YouNow is currently hosting around 150,000 live broadcasts a day, with an average of 100 million user sessions per month, and an average broadcast length of about 20 minutes (thankfully, no sign of mass avant garde weirdness yet).
It’s already been adopted by a number of media companies, according to Sideman, who noted that The Huffington Post does a weekly broadcast on YouNow, while BuzzFeed and Refinery 29 are also frequent broadcasters. It doesn’t currently sell advertising, but users are working with brands including Arizona Iced Tea and Wendy’s (YouNow doesn’t take a cut of the revenue for these deals).
YouNow’s monetization model is currently focused on virtual goods, including for example digital hearts that viewers can buy to show their appreciation for a live broadcast, or “thumbs up” that help push the video up the trending chart; the broadcasters get a cut of the revenue from these sales.
Sideman noted that over 70% of its users engage with broadcasters or other users in some way, including via chats, voting, and giving gifts of virtual goods. YouNow is also introducing paid subscriptions, which should allow broadcasters to monetize their most loyal and engaged audiences: while anyone can still view the broadcast, only subscribers will be allowed to chat with the broadcaster.
The latest round of investment brings YouNow’s total funding to date to $30 million.