In August 2019, YouTube rolled out its Super Chat feature to 19 more countries, which means that a great many more users have now been provided with the capability of using the popular Super Chat program. Included in this newest rollout phase are the countries of Uruguay, South Africa, Panama, Paraguay, Romania, Belarus, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Bolivia, Bulgaria, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Luxembourg, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, and Nicaragua.
What is Super Chat?
Super Chat is a feature which can be used by viewers who have the option of tipping creators while live streams are in progress, in order to get their comments featured more prominently. This can either be by highlighting with a special color, or by being pinned for a specific time period. The method of highlighting a specific comment will be determined by the amount of the donation supplied by the viewer.
A Super Chat can cost anywhere between $1 and $500, and it will allow you a comment duration of somewhere around five hours. There are limits to how much viewers can spend on Super Chats, which run to no more than $500 in a single day, and no higher than $2,000 in a single week. By being a YouTube premium subscriber, you are automatically entitled to $2 worth of Super Chats every month, which is included with your membership. A related feature which is known as Super Chat For Good, allows viewers to make direct donations to various qualifying non-profit organizations.
How it works
Whenever someone offers a live streaming event, you’ll see a dollar bill symbol displayed in your chat window. If you click on that dollar bill symbol, it will open up a slider which allows you to specify a dollar amount that you are willing to send to the live streaming presenter. The more money you pay, the longer your comment will stay pinned to the live streaming display for others to view. You also will be allowed to use more characters in creating your comment if you pay more money.
Once you’ve made a payment, your comment will be highlighted in some other color so that live streamers can flag your paid message. Once the comment gets pushed off the stream, creators will have the ability to click through all paid messages by clicking on the different colored pins which appear in the upper part of the chat window. Super Chat is seen as a replacement for Fan Funding, which was the tool previously used by viewers in order to pay event streamers to get their comments noticed.
YouTube’s goal with Super Chat is to provide fans a big assist in reaching out to their favorite presenters in real time, and encouraging responses from them. This will allow presenters to review all incoming messages and prioritize them according to who they consider their biggest fans to be, as a streaming event is in progress. Super Chat is a feature which is closely related to the Cheering option provided by Twitch to its users, which is a way for fans to reward live streamers with tips via chat emotes.
Controls for negative comments and under-aged users
The one drawback to YouTube’s version of this feature is that a user could theoretically pay to have negative or hateful comments posted to the streaming event. YouTube has done its best to counteract this capability by providing moderation tools which are available on regular YouTube. These tools will allow presenters to blacklist certain chat words, and to ban viewers who are seen as highly negative or harassing in nature. This will work in practically all cases, but it does put the onus on the presenter to flag down these negative users, and to take some type of action to either exclude their comment, or ban them from posting comments entirely.
The Super Chat feature is intended for viewers who are aged at least 18 years and who have a credit card. This doesn’t preclude youngsters from getting their hands on a parent’s credit card and wreaking havoc on a live streaming event, as well as putting a dent in the credit card account. If that were to happen, unwanted credit card charges could be disputed through Google’s existing customer service, and the relevant policies are fairly strict regarding donations during streaming events. It is entirely possible that additional parental controls may be necessary in the future, but for the time being, Super Chat is rolled out with the existing controls described above.
Impact of Super Chat
This rollout is expected to have a huge impact for presenters and live streaming event organizers, because in effect, it will act as a tip jar for those individuals, and it could become a primary source of income. YouTube creators who already make their living from generating advertising revenues on the platform and from brand endorsements, e.g. influencer marketing deals, will now have one more source of income to add to their arsenal.
It is expected that high-quality presentations will enjoy the broadest audiences, and thereby encourage the most amount of donations from users. Those streaming events which are seen as the most popular would be the ones where most fans would want their comments to be seen, so they would therefore patronize those events most readily. By making quality productions consistently, a presenter could theoretically garner consistently high-paying donations from users, thereby generating regular income.
It is also expected that this will encourage live streaming presenters to broadcast more often on YouTube, which of course is exactly what the platform is aiming for. There is an intense competition between Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube for live streaming, and this new capability is seen as one more tactic to increase the volume of live streaming on YouTube.
The reason live streaming events has become so popular is that such campaigns and initiatives are seen as methods by which companies can rise above the digital clutter by using person-to-person sharing. For corporations, this means business to consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) kinds of exchanges, and these kinds of communications always mean big dollars for companies.