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Periscope Gets Into Paid Gifting With Super Hearts

Twitter-owned Periscope is giving viewers a new feature to show their appreciation for their favorite live streamers, and publishers another way to make some money: The company launched Super Hearts as its first paid virtual gift product Wednesday, and also opened up a new revenue sharing program for U.S.-based live streamers.

Periscope has always had hearts as a way for viewers to show broadcasters their support. Now, viewers can purchase so-called Super Hearts, which include sparkling animations, and in some cases also the gifter’s account image. Super Heart givers are automatically added to a leaderboard for any ongoing broadcast, incentivizing them to give more than others to stay on top.

At launch, Periscope is selling three types of Super Hearts, which can be bought with an app-specific currency. Super Hearts start at 33 coins each, and 1050 coins cost $0.99, with rebates for users who buy bigger coin packages.

Broadcasters can accumulate the value of their Super Hearts over time, and live streamers will be able to redeem them for cash as soon as their value reaches $175 as part of a new revenue sharing program the service calls the Super Broadcaster Program. This program is initially only open to U.S.-based live streamers, but will be brought to additional markets over time. Payments are subject to a cut from app store operators like Google and Apple, and Twitter is splitting all remaining revenue 70/30 with broadcasters.

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Broadcasters can also decide that they don’t want any Super Hearts, and block the feature from their broadcasts — but Periscope clearly hopes that these paid virtual gifts will entice live streamers to go online more often, and interact more directly with their audience.

To that effect, the company is also exploring other ways to add more engagement, and possibly revenue, to live streaming. One idea on the table includes branded hearts, acknowledged Periscope Director of Software Engineering Sara Haider during a press briefing in San Francisco Tuesday: “We see the hearts as a canvas for a lot of different things.”

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