Today Periscope launches Super Hearts — in-app purchase virtual goods that users buy for real money, send to creators as animated hearts that get them attention in the comment reel and that broadcasters can then redeem with Twitter for a monthly cash payout.
After the 30 percent tax on in-app purchases from iOS or Android and transaction processing fees, Twitter will pay 70 percent of the cash value of the Super Hearts to the broadcasters and keep 30 percent for itself. Super Hearts are rolling out globally on iOS and Android. For now, only broadcasters in the U.S. are eligible to cash out their “tips,” but Periscope hopes to extend that to everyone soon.
Super Hearts seem to be inspired by the live stream virtual gifting trend in China, where fans buy digital roses and stickers to send to broadcasters on Yingke, Yizhibo and other apps. Yet Periscope tells me it was planning to launch this feature any way and didn’t work with Apple on it, but says the change “makes the spirit of what we’re trying to do more blessed” by Apple.
How to buy, send and cash in Super Hearts
You’ll see the Super Heart icon while watching broadcasts. Tapping it opens the Super Heart store, but first you’ll have to buy a bunch of virtual “coins,” starting at $0.99 with packages ranging up to $100. Then you can buy three different kinds of Super Hearts with these coins, ranging from cheaper basic hearts covered in plus signs, to a bubbly and sparkly mid-range heart, to the most expensive ones that give off explosions and feature your face in the center. You can then send these hearts by tapping across any broadcasts you watch. For example, $0.99 gets you enough coins to send roughly 30 of the basic Super Hearts.
For every Super Heart a broadcaster receives, its coin value is added to their “star” count that appears on their profile. Once broadcasters have $175 worth of stars (around 185,000 stars) accrued, they can apply to join Periscope’s Super Broadcaster program. If admitted, they can cash out their star balance for real money via ACH transfer at the end of each month. If broadcasters don’t want to squeeze money out of their fans, they can turn off receiving Super Hearts.
However, the broadcaster community is hesitant to say this will make them rich. Broadcasters who want to turn streaming into a profession continue to look to Twitch, Busker or YouTube. Periscope could likely use an infusion of new content. The company has refused to reveal its user or broadcaster count in almost two years, which is rarely a good sign.