Meerkat and Periscope are great, but for celebrities cache doesn’t necessarily translate into cash.
For that, there’s Hang w/ - a livestreaming platform backed by 50 Cent (along with others) that enables celebrities, influencers, and other content creators to set a price on their broadcasts. It is worth noting here that Hang w/ predated both Meerkat and Periscope.
Hang w/ counts 50 Cent, Jared Leto, Timbaland, Common, Larry The Cable Guy, Ali Landry, Claudia Jordan, Jamie Kennedy, Kaskade, and Lucy Hale among its users.
Recently, Hang w/ released a new feature, Digital Tickets, that enables its millions of users to create their own digitally ticketed events. Broadcasters can set a price on access to their livestream and they can also limit the number of tickets available - creating exclusive viewing opportunities.
Viewers can purchase an event easily via the app, and this content can then be viewed both live and on-demand.
For more on Digital Tickets and how Hang w/ views its competition we spoke with Dave Swartz, the company's President and CCO.
Found Rmote: Hang w/ has been around longer than both Meerkat and Periscope yet didn't take off in the same way. Why do you think that is?
Dave Swartz: Meerkat had a very smart hack of Twitter when they launched. They set it up so that every action a user took created a unique tweet. Every time a user commented, liked, viewed or broadcast - it ended up on twitter. They seeded their app with an influential group of tech investors - and they went from 0 to 100 overnight with the Technorati seemingly tweeting non-stop about them. The truth is, that these people were testing the app and had no idea that Meerkat was spamming their Twitter feed. But it was a brilliant strategy and it caught everyone’s eye going into SXSW. It also caught Twitter’s eye, which led them to do two things: one, they prevented Meerkat from using Twitter the way that they had. Two, they launched their own product, Periscope, which had been in development. The resulting PR war between the two of them created instant awareness and made people think that this was a completely new thing.
While we don’t have the marketing budget of Twitter and we didn’t spam people’s accounts like Meerkat, we have had steady and sustained growth over time. We have also found that our user base is incredibly loyal - despite the new options that are showing up.
FR: You recently launch Digital Tickets - which enables users and broadcasters to set prices on livestreams. Millennials hate paying for things and they hate pre-roll - why do you think they'll embrace this, then?
Swartz: We’ve actually seen first hand that users are willing to pay for access to special events. We had a group of users do a kind of growth hack on us in which they used Hang w/ to raise money from their fans.
The production team behind ConMan allowed their fans private access on Hang w/ in exchange for funding their Indiegogo campaign. The stars of the movie charged $250 for private access to their Hang w/ and they raised almost $100,000 from that line item alone. It showed us that fans are willing to pay for live content when it’s special.
FR: How has Hang w/ altered its strategy based on the success of Meerkat and Periscope?
Swartz: We’ve kept to our core belief: that live content from true content creators has value. We’ve also worked to add new systems that allow content creators who make valuable content to engage with viewers who are seeking it. Sometimes the value exchange is as simple as watching an ad; other times it comes from making an actual payment to view content. New features we’re adding such as tipping will incentivize content creators to create even better content and it will give them the ability to earn extra for doing so.
FR: Why is Hang w/ a better option for celebrities and influencers than other livestreaming options?
Swartz: Hang w/ was designed for content creators. We don’t make you choose between your social media platforms. Hang w/ streams to multiple locations. We stream to Facebook and Twitter and we stream to a web embed that can be put in any website.
A key differentiator is that we allow for public and private broadcasting options. In the case of Con Man, they actually charged for people to access their private broadcasts and, as mentioned, raised a lot of money in the process. With other influencers and celebrities, they have the ability to do special live streams just for their super fans - or for their own private inner circles.
Hang w/ also works with artists and influencers to run ads before and after their broadcasts, incorporating their sponsors in a brand safe manner if and when needed.
FR: Anything else?
Swartz: For celebrities and influencers livestreaming is a new world. If they give content away for free with no friction at all, very soon their fans will have an expectation that they should get an unlimited look into their private lives and they’ll be giving it away forever. The model is already broken enough - with people who spend their lives creating music or film or content unable to earn a steady income. There are people who have amassed hundreds of thousands of social media followers because they fascinate people and hold their attention - yet they can’t earn an income from this. Hang w/ is a chance for them to monetize their following.
We’ve been building in this space longer than any of the others mentioned. We understand the needs and desires of a live broadcaster and we are constantly adding new features to support them. Zoom is about to be released. Along with a few other adjustments that we know our users will love.