Social Live Streaming Platform YouNow Raises $15 Million, Adds Paid Subscriptions

New York-based social live streaming platform YouNow has raised another $15 million in funding from Venrock, Oren Zeev and Comcast Ventures. The funding, which brings the total raised by YouNow to $30 million, comes at a time when the company is also exploring new revenue opportunities: On Monday, YouNow is announcing that it is launching paid subscriptions in an effort to help live streamers monetize their work.

YouNow has its own twist on live video streaming: The service offers any user the chance to go live and interact with their fans through a chat room. Many of YouNow’s top broadcasters regularly reach thousands of viewers, and some actually make a living off the platform. YouNow allows fans to buy virtual goods, and members of a partner program get a cut every time someone sends them fan mail or buys a “marriage proposal.”

The company is now also giving a small number of partners an additional way to make money by allowing them to sell subscriptions to their broadcasts. However, these new subscriptions come with a twist: YouNow is still making the video available to everyone, but is limiting the chat to paying subscribers.

YouNow is now attracting 100 million user sessions every month, and streaming 50,000 hours of video every day. “We are in a very serious growth mode,” said YouNow founder and CEO Adi Sideman during an interview last week.

This growth is happening just as live streaming is getting another boost, thanks to apps like Periscope and meerkat, but Sideman was quick to differentiate his platform from other live streamers. “This is not about live,” he said, adding: “This is a real-time, interactive social experience.”

Much of YouNow’s talent is made up of teenagers broadcasting from their bedroom, but some of its more popular broadcasters are also well-known on YouTube or Vine. “It’s become so hard to break through on YouTube,” said Sideman. The company wants to attract more talent from YouTube multi-channel networks (MCNs) in the coming months by opening an office in Los Angeles that is squarely focused on talent acquisition.

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