Live streaming platform YouNow has officially launched in the Middle East and is changing the way people interact online. The website and mobile app is the first platform of its kind to enable real time interaction between broadcasters and their fans, while also offering influencers the opportunity of earning money.
YouNow facilitates live content creation from performers, celebrities, social influencers and brands, while encouraging personal interaction with fans. It is a platform that allows its users to curate, reward and participate with content creators in real time.
"The product is engineered, not like a utility to facilitate broadcast, but as a network, governed by the users, who decide at any given time, what should trend, who should earn revenue and what will be on the screen," Arab Markets Manager Chereen Zaki told StepFeed.
Explaining the difference and the advantage of YouNow over other online streaming services like Snapchat and Facebook Live, Zaki said, "Members of the community, fans, actually reward their favorite broadcasters with gifts and revenues. As a result, some broadcasters earn as much as six-figures a year on YouNow."
Social media celebrities like the Abdelaziz sisters – " Lebanon's Kardashians " – have adopted YouNow, using the platform to broadcast topics such as fashion, beauty and fitness. Additionally, Saudi social media star Abdullah al-Hassan – "Abodybad" – has racked up over 200,000 fans in just a short amount of time.
"Before I tried it out I thought it was gonna be a quick Q&A with not that much fun to it but little did I know. I ended up on YouNow for two straight hours! It was so much fun virtually meeting and chatting with a bunch of my followers and getting to know them a bit more, having them tell me about themselves instead [of] talking about just me," YouNow star Sherif Fayed told StepFeed.
"YouNow is an opportunity for the world to see what the Middle East has to offer. There is so much culture, art and diversity in the region and it will allow individuals to not only display their talents, but connect with fans from all over the world," Zaki said.
Interestingly, YouNow doesn't monetize through advertising, instead it favors a unique tipping system as a way of revenue for its broadcasters. For instance, audiences may decide to tip a musician for a performance or a beauty vlogger for her make-up tips. Users can also tip in exchange for extra features on the chat room such as highlighted comments or becoming a guest broadcaster.
"As far as I am aware, we are the only social network out there that facilitates consumer-to-consumer payment. This means artists are given a good opportunity to earn a fair wage directly from fans who appreciate their skills," Head of International Markets Candace Tossas said.
However, with numerous platforms like Snapchat and Facebook Live penetrating the region and the world, is YouNow a platform that can actually compete? Well, globally YouNow has more than 100 million user sessions per month and 150,000 hours of live video consumed every day. Additionally, the site boasts 70 percent user engagement and 90 percent mobile engagement.
Of course, in comparison, Snapchat has more than 100 million daily users and Facebook's more than one billion daily active users are quickly flocking to use Facebook Live. Nonetheless, YouNow offers a unique and rapidly growing service that provides something different than other online streaming platforms.