PewDiePie, YouTube’s most popular individual creator, is throwing his weight behind DLive — a live-streaming video service that promises far better economic terms for creators than other major platforms.
The vlogger-gamer-comedian, whose name is Felix Kjellberg, says he will use DLive exclusively (for the next several months, anyway) to present weekly live-streams. PewDiePie is slated to kick off his first official DLive stream on Sunday, April 14, at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET, at dlive.tv/pewdiepie and the DLive app.
DLive is built on top of the Lino Network blockchain-based currency system. The DLive service doesn’t take a cut of the revenue generated by live-streaming creators through subscriptions or digital “gifts” and it pledges that it never will. That’s compared with other providers, including Amazon’s Twitch, which keeps 50% of channel subscription revenue. In addition, DLive generates credits to reward other participating live-streamers based on consumption of their content.
“I’m excited to start live-streaming again regularly,” Kjellberg said in a statement. “DLive is great for me because I’m treated like a real partner just like all of the other streamers on their unique platform.”
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In his first DLive live-stream, PewDiePie says he will donate between $10,000 and $50,000 (in Lino Points, the platform’s currency) to other creators who are live-streaming on the platform as a way to encourage more uptake, Kjellberg said in a video Tuesday.
“DLive is a place where instead of competing against each other, it benefits creators to support one another,” said Wilson Wei, co-founder of Lino Network. “PewDiePie has always been a fierce advocate for the value that creators bring with their hard work, time and effort, and he believes in DLive’s vision.”
Financial terms of PewDiePie’s deal with DLive and Lino are not being disclosed.
PewDiePie has more than 93 million subscribers on YouTube — making him far and away the biggest individual creator on the video site. For the past few weeks, Kjellberg has been engaged in a back-and-forth battle with India’s T-Series for the No. 1 YouTube most-subscribed position.
Lino Network, based in Cupertino, Calif., was founded in July 2017. The startup last year raised $20 million in funded led by ZhenFund, a Beijing-based venture-capital firm, with participation from FBG Capital, DFund, and INBlockchain. According to Wei, Lino Network (whose name is a contraction of “livestream now”) has about 30 employees.
DLive is the first service built on top of Lino. It launched in September 2018 and claims to have over 3 million monthly active users and 35,000 active streamers; some of the most popular creators are NoahFromDlive, Ltzonda, and DabPlays. The service is available the web at dlive.tv and via Android and iOS apps. According to Wei, DLive and Lino Network are independent companies that have collaborated closely with each other.
PewDiePie is supporting DLive because “this particular platform was able to support a lot of what he’s going after in terms of innovation and support for other creators,” said Kat Peterson, co-founder of influencer-media company re6I (ReelSix) and a member of Kjelllberg’s management team.
“This was a really good fit for him,” Peterson said. “This platform is able to support creators, in terms of the revenue share, in a way that is hugely favorable to the creator.” He’s donating Lino Points to other creators “to get everybody on the platform excited that he’s there,” she added.
And, of course, Kjellberg sees a business opportunity to generate a new revenue stream from fans, either through live-stream subscriptions or gifting on the DLive platform.
PewDiePie remains a controversial figure: He’s been the target of criticism for making anti-Semitic jokes and using racist language in the past, and lost business deals with Maker Studios and YouTube as a result of his over-the-line stunts. Meanwhile, the attacker in last month’s New Zealand mass shootings reportedly urged people to “subscribe to PewDiePie”; since then, more than 79,000 people have signed a Change.org petition to have PewDiePie banned from YouTube for “normalizing white supremacy.”
In a video posted Sunday, Kjellberg apologized again for his past offensive comments (including when he uttered the N-word in a livestream) but disputed many of the petition’s claims as false: “As laughable as some of these points are, a lot of people are obviously taking it seriously,” he says. “If you don’t know anything about me… then obviously it paints a really bad picture that just isn’t true.”
DLive says it gives 90.1% of all subscription and gift revenue directly to creators (in the form of Lino Points). To reward the most popular live-streamers, the other 9.9% goes into a pool that rewards people based on their contributions to the network on a daily basis.
While DLive doesn’t take a cut of creators’ revenue, there are processing fees from third-party providers associated with converting Lino Points into actual cash and vice versa. (The exchange rate is currently fixed at 1.2 cents per Lino Point.) For example, PayPal charges 40 cents per transaction plus a 4.4% of the total transaction value to purchase Lino Points.
What is Lino’s ultimate the business model? Wei declined to comment on how the company expects to earn money. “We are growing fast — monetizing is not in our short-term plans,” he said. “Our sole focus is on growth.”
As far as DLive’s streaming infrastructure, Wei said it uses industry-standard components and employs content delivery services including Amazon’s AWS.