How can broadcasters make money on Periscope?

We created Super Hearts—virtual gifts that make it super fun & easy for fans to give directly to their favorite broadcasters.

01. Quick Overview

Giving Super Hearts
As simple as giving regular hearts. Tap anywhere on the screen after making your heart selection. Heart icon updates to reflect the type of heart and the number you can send.
Selecting a Super Heart
Select the heart you like the best. Heart selection updates often based on special promotions and seasonality.
Purchasing Coin Packages
You need coins to send Super Hearts. The more coins you buy, the better deal you get. Easily navigate from heart selection to the Coin Store.
The Leaderboard
Join a friendly competition with other fans to become the biggest supporter.

02. Goal · Context · Constraints

1. Boost the retention of top broadcasters by giving them a means to seamlessly monetize broadcasts on Periscope

2. Boost broadcast creation from top broadcasters
Maximize profit for Periscope
Being a successful broadcaster requires a lot of time and dedication. For some, broadcasting transforms from a part-time hobby to a way of life, and that way of life needs to be financed.

We were competing against Facebook, which during this time was handsomely paying creators to make exclusive live content.
We could not have an unrestricted monetary exchange between people on our platform. Doing so would make us into a financial institution and trigger legal requirements we would not have been able to meet without prohibitive investment. This led us down the pathway of virtual currency, and specifically the two currency system which separated the given and received currencies.

03. Explorations & Research

Paid Comments

We explored a variety of fun ways that commenting could be turned into an income stream for broadcasters.


Viewers liked that they were getting something of concrete value in return, but some broadcasters worried about potential for abuse.

Cash Tipping


Broadcasters preferred cash proxies like gifts compared to directly receiving cash due to negative cultural norms around visibly receiving cash esp. in small denominations.

Love Mode

Viewer would give broadcaster coins based upon the amount of time they watched. Time watched was an important metric that we felt best reflected fan dedication. We also introduced a leaderboard to track how much time people spent watching.


People found it difficult to understand when they would start it, end it, or what coin amount per minute they would choose.

Super Hearts v1

We simplified Love Mode above to arrive at an early version of Super Hearts. Instead of having a sliding scale, we gave people 3 hearts to choose from.


People quickly grasped the idea and were excited to try it out. Giving Super Hearts felt natural because it was so closely related to regular hearts. Biggest concern people had was about virtual currency—how much they are actually giving or receiving.

04. Final

Currency Flow Architecture

Coin Store Evolution

05. Reflections

Super Hearts was the biggest and most exciting launch since Periscope's creation. We received wide coverage in the press. We exceeded our expectations for gross revenue, which allowed us to give out bonuses on top of what Super Broadcasters earned every month. Super Hearts turned into a meaningful income stream for top broadcasters and gave everyone else a delightful way to celebrate being in a broadcast together.

The biggest sticky point was that it took time for people to develop a feel for how coins and stars translated into their local currency. It was not unlike moving to a new country and getting familiar with the exchange rates. What made this extra tricky was that these exchange rates fluctuated based upon various factors.

I've learned an enormous amount working on Super Hearts. I'm grateful I not only got to design the visible experience, but also collaborate on the "invisible" parts of the system—in a virtual economy, those are just as important as the visible parts. I also got a taste of how regulations of various kinds (legal, app store) can limit and sometimes even dictate the pathways forward. As always, fighting to provide the most value to the end customers while balancing the various tradeoffs along the way is a challenging, but satisfying journey.