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Be prepared to pay up for watching live-casters like Chris Pirillo any day now, as Justin.tv is preparing to launch a pay-per-view service. The live streaming startup is rolling out its premium offering with a few of its broadcasters next month, according to a Beet.tv report, with plans to open up the offering to everyone in the second quarter of 2010. Justin.tv is modeling its revenue split after the iTunes Store, and the company’s VP of marketing told Beet.tv that the new offering will finally make it possible to make “digital dollars” instead of just dimes online.
Pay-per-view for live streaming isn’t exactly a new idea. Stickam launched a similar service almost 18 months ago, and Ustream has been talking about charging viewers for live video in the past as well. In fact, Justin.tv’s own CEO Michael Seibel toyed with the idea almost two years ago. Back then, he told the Silicon Alley Insider that the company was working on a combination of “pay-per-view, Craigslist and eBay.” You know, minus the hookers and ridiculous shipping fees.
Actually, it sounds like Justin.tv is now taking a more traditional pay-per-view approach. Broadcasters will be able to set their own fees, with single live shows starting at $1 each. There will also be an option to do subscription services, which could be especially interesting for regular broadcasters with an audience willing to pay. Justin.tv will handle all the billing and charge a flat 30 percent fee on any pay-per-view or subscription sales.
That’s slightly different than the pricing structure of Stickam’s Payperlive program, which it rolled out gradually beginning in July 2008. Stickam offers broadcasters a number of different service plans with scaling bandwidth allocations, revenue splits and monthly fees. The cheapest plan, which includes 100 GB of bandwidth, costs $19 per month, on top of which Stickam charges 25 percent per ticket sold. The so-called platinum plan costs $79 per month, but broadcasters keep 85 percent of their pay-per-view revenue.
Justin.tv has lately been in the headlines for its attempts to appease rights holders with copyright filters. Pay-per-view could actually help the company strike deals with sports leagues that don’t want to see their video transmitted for free, but we’ll have to wait and see whether Justin.tv’s audience will bite.