TikTok has announced a program that lets viewers pay to subscribe to specific live streamers they want to support. Dubbed Live Subscription, it gives fans access to perks like a subscriber-only chat, creator-specific emotes, and badges that differentiate them from non-subscribers (via TechCrunch). It’s launching in beta on May 26th, according to an announcement video posted on the TikTok Live Creator page.
That page has also posted videos from several creators announcing that they’re part of the program and announcing the potential benefits to their followers. While custom stickers for livestream chats and the opportunity to take part in subscriber-only chats are likely the biggest draw for viewers, a few creators have noted that they’re also excited about having “predictable monthly income,” as TikTok’s explainer video puts it.
Making money directly from TikTok (as in, without having to do your own sponsorship deals) has historically been a bit tricky. It wasn’t until earlier this month when the company announced that it would start to share a cut of ad revenue with eligible creators. Live streamers who were part of a creator program could also receive “Gifts,” or tips from viewers, which took the form of an in-app currency that can be exchanged for real money. With subscriptions, it should be relatively straightforward — viewers are billed every month, and that money goes to you (TikTok hasn’t said if it’ll take a cut).
This sort of program will likely be familiar to Twitch users, as it has a very similar subscription program. According to TechCrunch, the price of TikTok Live Subscriptions will be “comparable” to Twitch packages, which start at $4.99 a month (though there are tiers that range up to $24.99 a month).
I do find a tiny bit of poetic irony in how similar this is to Twitch’s subscription system — many platforms have copied tons of TikTok features, but now it’s TikTok doing the copying (and well after YouTube, Twitter, and others also started working the patronage angle). That’s not to say it’s a bad thing — it’s just funny to see the role-reversal happening here.
According to TikTok’s announcement post, you’ll have to be 18 years or older to either offer or purchase a paid subscription, and creators can only offer subscriptions if they have at least 1,000 followers. (To get subscribers on Twitch, you have to be an affiliate or a partner, which both have their own sets of prerequisites.) The company also says that, at the moment, the program is invite-only.