What’s new: Popular Japanese YouTuber Junichi Kato and his wife made history last weekend by collecting a global record total of 217,587,306 yen (US $1.84 million) worth of donations in the form of super chats from 104,805 individuals while live-streaming their wedding.
Why it matters: Mr. and Mrs. Kato’s online achievement has highlighted the ability of the most popular YouTubers to “super chat” their channels to generate some serious cash.
The big questions: While the monetization of live-streaming events has become an established method for gamers to generate an income, is nothing private anymore?
- Japanese weddings tend to be elaborate affairs, but thus far they have remained private events. By breaking with tradition the Jun Channel, Kato’s YouTube channel, may have started a trend toward live streaming one’s own wedding to the general public. Kato adamantly vowed that this would be the first and only time to use super chats to collect donations, but that amount of cash may prove hard to resist.
- While Japan has long had a tradition of giving cash to newlyweds on their wedding day, receiving micro-donations from complete strangers may become the “new normal” at Japanese weddings. The average value of the Kato’s donations was only 2,076 yen ($17.54). Standard donations are typically anywhere from 20,000 ~ 50,000 yen ($170 ~ $420), depending upon the guest’s relationship to the couple getting married. The actual wedding, which included many Japanese A-listers including professional baseball players and fellow YouTube celebrities, probably brought in plenty of hefty donations. Thus, the median amount of donation may have been far lower than the average.
It only took Kato and his wife just under 3 hours to surpass the previous world record for super chat donations, which had belonged to Uruha Rushia, the world’s #1 ranked virtual YouTuber since June 2021 .
- The Katos may be able to hold on to their record for a while, as Uruha Rushia was terminated by the VTuber group Holohive at the end of February. Kato was able to leverage his base of 1.09 million YouTube channel subscribers and 552,000 Twitch subscribers to achieve this record.
- Super chatting as a means to get rich is currently quite big in Japan. In terms of historical earnings, the Top 5 “super chatted” channels were all Japanese.
What’s next: YouTubers—both human and virtual–are likely to continue to lead Japan’s digital transformation, despite segments of the population who are resistant to change.
- Despite facing major hurdles from the domestic television industry, YouTubers are making steady progress toward breaking down the barriers to entry in the world of broadcasting.
- Like in other countries, YouTubers have tapped into the younger demographic’s penchant for consuming media on the web. This phenomenon is causing traditional television ratings to plummet. Furthermore, Junichi Kato has just proven a new way to monetize one of life’s milestones.
The big picture: As YouTube viewership continues to explode, the popularity of large-scale super chatting is likely to spread from Japan.
- To date the most lucrative super chatted channels have been dominated by virtual YouTubers who message in the Japanese language.
- Gamers and other super chatted channels focused on politics in both English and Korean are, however, catching up to their early adopter peers in Japan.
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