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“At first, it got to be enough so I could cover my phone bill.Now I make more every month on You Now than I do from my work at the store,” Abuhamdeh tells me. We become friends.” A couple of times he’s broadcast from his bedroom while sleeping. They want to see everything that you do.” You Now launched back in September of 2012, but for its first year and a half struggled to find traction.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.Tayser Abuhamdeh doesn’t have what most people would call an exciting job. “Eventually I started opening up, saying random things, telling jokes and laughing at my own jokes.He works behind the counter at a deli in Brooklyn, a small shop that does a brisk business in snacks, coffee, and cigarettes. I started to act like people were there watching, and that’s when they showed up.” Abuhamdeh’s routine was subtle.In June of last year, on a whim and mostly out of boredom, Abuhamdeh mounted his phone next to the register and began to broadcast his day on You Now, a live streaming service. People would walk up and pay, he would ring them up, and then as they left, nail them with a zinger spoken to the camera.
He shared stories from his home life, and slowly began to invite fans into it, broadcasting from his apartment, from a cousin’s wedding, while driving in his car or getting a haircut.
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.
This growth is part of a broader boom in live streaming services.
Meerkat emerged as a media and tech darling, easily winning the war for attention at this year’s SXSW.