Live streaming platform Kiswe, launched in 2013, has hosted concerts for the likes of BTS and sports games in partnership with ESPN and the NBA. Now, it sets its sights on a new market as it looks to establish itself as another home for creator content.
Sticking to what it knows, Kiswe is testing the creator waters with another big partner: The Try Guys.
The YouTube channel with over 8 million subscribers will host a live performance of Romeo and Juliet on Aug. 10 featuring the comedy trio, known for trying things from the mundane to the wacky, such as getting deep-tissue massages or giving tattoos with no training. Viewers will be able to virtually interact with the performers and direct the show, voting on which bizarre objects the straight-faced actors will fight with, for instance.
Like every other event on Kiswe, Romeo and Juliet is ticketed, which serves as the primary form of monetization for both the platform and its creators. Prices range from $15 to $45, with more expensive bundles including access to a VIP after-show and apparel.
Kiswe declined to disclose its revenue share split on ticket sales. Revenue shares, whether through advertising or subscriptions, tend to make up a large portion of creator incomes.
Creators can also pursue sponsorships themselves for programs on Kiswe with facilitation from the platform. Given that its shows are ticketed, there’s currently no advertising on Kiswe, making sponsorships the only avenue brands have to get in front of its audience.
“You have a two-hour sizable captive audience that you know is paying attention,” said Glenn Booth, CEO of Kiswe. “They’re watching the screen and engaging with each other. It makes it very powerful from a sponsorship perspective.”
Putting together a Shakespearean play requires a level of direct fan support that video-on-demand and ad-supported platforms don’t support, said Zach Kornfield, co-creator of The Try Guys.
“Advertising-based video on demand is a really wonderful financial tool, but it’s limiting,” he said. “You’re at the whims of algorithms and those specific ad dollars. If you can create a high-tier, high-quality piece of programming that fans want to support directly, it allows you to unlock a deeper level of content.”
As a result, Kiswe lends itself to larger programs that are a “huge creative swing,” Kornfield said. However, it doesn’t serve as a replacement for the content the comedy trio puts on YouTube.
Instead, the two platforms feed into each other. For instance, The Try Guys have created content for YouTube that teases their upcoming Kiswe show.
Live events require strong brand safety measures, especially when a sponsor is involved and fans are sending videos via chat. As a white-label platform, Kiswe allows its partners to determine what level of moderation they desire before the show.
For sponsors that want a more heavily moderated program, Kiswe can screen every message and video before it hits the chat to ensure it meets their guidelines. That process tends to be more delicate and requires human eyes to complement automated reviews, Booth said.
When sponsors aren’t involved, most creators want a more immediate, unfiltered back and forth with their audience and dial back those safety measures, Booth added. Kiswe instead relies on automation for lighter moderation lifts.
For now, Booth sees Kiswe as a more natural fit for creators with big followings, but the platform has its eye on scaling down to work with smaller creators.
“It’s early in the creator market for this type of pay-per-view experience,” he said. “That has led us to work with larger creators, and The Try Guys are a great example of this. That sets an opportunity to redefine how a lot of these creator shows are done moving forward, and there’s an opportunity to then scale that across the industry.”