Streamers get advertising fees, but they also earn an income through viewer donations
Streaming is not as easy as it looks
There is a lot of distrust around the idea of making donations to people who stream
Streaming has become popular in Taiwan. Since YouTube has implemented the YouTube Partner Program, which is a program that only allows video creators to earn ad money before their total views of their channels reach 10,000, donation systems have started to appear more frequently. Many streamers rely on this system as their main way to make money.
For people who seldom watch live streams on the Internet, the idea of donation is hard to understand, but imagine seeing a street artist performing excellent shows everyday on the street, and you never tip him. Then one day, the artist does not appear, and there is only a sign that says “I’m out of money and cannot perform for you guys anymore. Sorry.” You will feel miserable because at this point you realize you should have donated to him a long time ago. In this scenario, streaming is the performance, and streamers are the street artists.
Streamers get part of their money from advertisements, but the other part of their income is from viewer donations. They usually create a progress bar on their channels to show how much money they have received in order to reach a specific goal such as donating to charity or buying a new keyboard. This helps their audience by providing a better understanding of what streamers intend to do with the money.
Because the Internet spread so quickly and our technology grows everyday, people tend to think streaming is easy. Also, they use Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram which all provide streaming services so people can become streamers easily. However, most people who try to become streamers fail because streaming is not as easy as it looks, and while they are streaming, donations often become a serious issue.
Streaming in Taiwan
The first livestream platform in Taiwan was Justin TV, which was created by Justin Kan in 2007. Famous video makers at the time such as 6Tan (六嘆) saw its potential of becoming a big industry and began streaming on it. This successful attempt brought the streaming market into Taiwan, and more people started to engage.
In 2012, a streamer at Taiwan called Blue Garage Door (藍色鐵捲門) also noticed the convenience and potential of Justin TV and started to engage in this industry. He implemented the idea of donating into streaming, but Taiwanese people were new to the idea and thought he was scamming them. His banner read, “If you don’t donate money, I might not have the passion and money to keep making videos,” and when he put this under his channel it aggravated the problem. After trying to fix things, he quit and retired from the streaming industry.
Even though Taiwanese viewers started to accept the donation system more after Blue Garage Door introduced it, there were still many concerns. No one knows where the money they donated will go, causing rumors about streamers to appear. The safety of the Internet was also a huge problem. Private information such as credit card numbers and passwords could be hacked easily just by putting them onto the Internet, and most donation systems rely on online paying systems. Although the security systems of the websites get better everyday, it is still dangerous to put these numbers on the Internet.
Streaming is an industry full of potential, and donating is the way viewers support streamers. The contention about donations all comes from distrust of the Internet. If the stereotypes around donation can be changed, the rights of the streamers and the viewers will improve.