YouTube is killing off Fan Funding, the feature that allowed fans to make one-time donations to their favorite creators, in replace of a new live streaming feature.
Super Chat will allow fans to pay money to have their chat message stand out. Chats will be highlighted with a bright color, and stay pinned to the top of the chat, depending on the amount of your contribution. Higher amounts will result in a brighter color and longer pinning, up to 5 hours.
Creators will need to opt-in to the new feature, and will need to create a Google Payments Merchant account as a prerequisite, just like with Fan Funding. YouTube cites low usage of Fan Funding as the reason for the change.
“While we were really excited about Fan Funding, it never achieved widespread usage outside of live streams, where we saw the majority of revenue,” the company wrote in a blog post.
This update will put YouTube on-par with other live streaming giants, many of which rely solely on microtransactions for revenue. Top creators on Gen-Z targeted platforms like YouNow and Live.me make thousands a month – without advertisements, just gifts from fans.
It’s a lucrative business model – fans receive instant gratification for their contribution in the form of acknowledgement by their favorite creator, and the creators receive that income to support future projects. Viewers, especially those in younger generations, need that instant gratification to justify their purchase. When live streams have thousands of concurrent viewers, having the ability to get your comment seen and read aloud for just a couple of dollars is powerful.
Super Chat is currently available to a select number of beta partners, but a wide-scale roll out is planned for January 31 to creators in 20 countries and viewers in more than 40 countries.
Fan Funding sign-ups have been disabled as of today, but will continue to be available for previously-enabled channels until February 28.