Streamers and content creators typically rely on subscriptions, Patreon donations, or affiliate money from Twitch or YouTube to keep the lights on. But for those who had a more traditional, brick-and-motor business before the pandemic, it might be tough keep providing their customers, students, or clients the same content or lessons while still getting paid. Facebook is rolling out a new feature that could help with that: paid access to live streams.
Spotted by The Verge, the announcement was buried in a larger reveal that included details on Facebook Messenger Rooms, an expansion of WhatsApp group calls, and several new live video features for Facebook, Instagram, and Portal. This option will only be available on Pages, but Facebook says it’s adding the feature as a way to “support creators and small businesses.” This is potentially good news for yoga, art, fitness, and a plethora of other kinds of instructors, musicians and other creatives who have seen their business dry up due to the covid-19 pandemic. (A remote class or show might not be the same as an in-person event, but if Dropkick Murphys can put on a great livestreamed event, others can too.)
Facebook event creators will be able to mark events as online-only and integrate Facebook Live so they can broadcast to guests, whether they choose to make a virtual event paid or not. One new video feature that could integrate well with paid virtual events is Live With, which allows you to add another person to your live video. (Personally, I’d like to see this expanded to include more people instead of Messenger Rooms.) Facebook did not specifically say that Live With would integrate with paid streams, but it would make sense if it did since paid streams would have to be hosted on Facebook Live.
Facebook didn’t offer more details on the paid livestream feature, though, and there’s no set date for when this feature will make its debut on Facebook. There’s also no information regarding any possible limitations for paid events other than they will be available to Pages only, not personal profiles. (That could change, though.)
Facebook didn’t say if a similar feature is in the works over on Instagram, but creators on that platform could also benefit from charging for access to livestreams. Currently, Facebook has only announced two new additions to its photo-sharing platform: watching and commenting on live videos from a computer and saving your live videos to IGTV. As people scramble to find ways to supplement their incomes while nonessential businesses are closed, these features could be beneficial.