His broadcasting schedule swelled from one or two hours a day to appearing live in four two-hour sessions. “I was using up around 70GB of data each month, and I’m with Verizon so you know that’s not cheap.” He was addicted to the interaction with the audience, but couldn’t afford to keep up with his costs.So he sent a letter to You Now, which put him on its partner program, allowing him to earn money when his fans left digital tips and gifts. Cashier broadcast has several hundred people following live at any time."I was running a media technology agency for a while and trying to shove this down the throat of every client, but nobody wanted it," Sideman says.Watching a You Now stream can be an overwhelming experience.A 99 cent tip sometimes gets a broadcaster to smile, while more expensive offerings elicit a personal shoutout, or more intimate reaction.The company won’t share what the revenue split is between streamers and You Now, saying only that broadcasters in the partner program get "the lion’s share" of their tips.Along with broadcasting, Abuhamdeh texts and talks on the phone with his followers. Then in May of last year it suddenly clicked, exploding from less than 10 million monthly visitors to more than 100 million in the span of just four months.More than 35,000 hours of live video are now streamed on the service each day, and more than a million dollars in tips flow through its platform each month.
Meerkat emerged as a media and tech darling, easily winning the war for attention at this year’s SXSW.
"It is a dream that a lot of people have been thinking about for a long time," Sideman told me, relaxing at a conference table in his midtown New York office.
"It is a holy grail." In the 1990s Sideman studied art and technology in New York.
Of course, anyone getting premium goods outside the partner program gets no cut. He tunes in to the channel of a user named Flippin Ginja, a red-headed teen and amateur gymnast who is lounging on his porch swing.
"Guys, I’ve been drinking too much water," he tells his smartphone camera.