YouTube has launched a new way for live-stream viewers to both make sure their comments are seen by content creators, and for content creators to monetize their streams on Thursday. It’s called Super Chat, and the more a viewer pays, the longer their comment would appear pinned in the live-stream’s companion chat room.
Viewers will be able to pay anywhere from $1 to $500 to gain special benefits such as a special highlight color for their message, longer message length, and extended time where their message appears pinned in the chat. For example, a $1 purchase would not give you any additional benefits, but a $500 payment would highlight a message up to 350 characters in red within the chat for up to five hours.
The feature launches today in a select number of popular YouTube channels, but will launch across creators in 20 countries and viewers in 40 countries starting January 31. It replaces Fan Funding, YouTube’s previous way to allow fans to send donations directly to content creators.
“For creators, this means Super Chat does double duty: keeping their conversations and connections with fans meaningful and lively while also giving creators a new way to make money,” product manager Barbara Macdonald says.
Super Chat is also be a way for the creators themselves to acknowledge and interact more with their biggest fans. Since these messages will appear highlighted in a different color from the rest of the chat, they’ll be easier to find. YouTube will also provide admin tools that will allow creators to sort through these paid chat messages through tabs at the top of the chat window.
“We are super excited to see how our new creator funding tool keeps the conversation going,” Macdonald added.
One potential problem is that the system at least initially doesn’t appear to have any measures to prevent online trolls from paying for harassing messages that now will appear pinned within the chat. The same chat moderation tools will still be available — such as word or phrase blocking and user bans — but the creator themselves will need to manually remove the chats if those features are not enabled.