You'll Soon Be Able to Sponsor Your Favorite YouTube Creators for $5 Per Month

A general view of atmosphere at the YouTube ‘Dear White People’ Reception on January 20, 2014 in Park City, Utah.
A general view of atmosphere at the YouTube ‘Dear White People’ Reception on January 20, 2014 in Park City, Utah.
Photo: Getty

Fans of popular YouTube personalities will soon have a new way to show their support for their favorite creators. YouTube announced Thursday several new tools for YouTubers to generate revenue, including a Channel Memberships feature that will allow viewers to subscribe to channels for a monthly fee.

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Made public by YouTube at the VidCon conference in Anaheim, California, the new subscription tool will give fans a chance to provide direct monetary support to YouTube creators. The membership fee will cost $4.99 per month and will give backers access to exclusive digital goods and content.

Borrowing from the model popularized by game streaming service Twitch, YouTube’s Channel Memberships is a sort of premium model subscription plan. Instead of just subscribing to a channel and receiving videos from the creator in your feed, folks that pay the $4.99 recurring monthly fee will get extra content and features. That includes access to “Members-only” posts in the Community tab of a channel, unique badges for their profile, emoji, and more.

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YouTube’s Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan suggested in a blog post that creators might provide exclusive live streams, extra videos made available only to members, and shout-outs in videos as other potential perks.

This isn’t YouTube’s first foray with the membership model. As TechCrunch pointed out, the platform has used a similar “sponsorship” feature for its game streaming service YouTube Gaming. It also has been experimenting with the Memberships with some creators on YouTube. Mohan detailed some of the early experiments with Channel Memberships on the site’s main platform:

Creators who have already been experimenting with this feature on YouTube have seen encouraging results. Since launching in January, comedy creator Mike Falzone more than tripled his YouTube revenue. And traveling duo Simon and Martina have built a closer-knit community and revamped a miniseries exclusively for their members, in more than 30 countries from Finland to the Philippines.

Not all YouTubers will be eligible to use Channel Memberships and rake in the monthly subscriber fee. Per YouTube, only channels with more than 100,000 subscribers will be able to utilize the new revenue generating tool. YouTube also is rolling out a new feature for selling merchandise that creators with over 10,000 subscribers can use.

Those new tools don’t quite help out YouTube’s smallest creators, who already got fucked over by the platform earlier this year when YouTube pulled the ability to generate ad revenue from any channel that has fewer than 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time within the last year. Those less-active creators, who can cultivate a tight-knit community even if the audience is small, are still without a lot of options for generating even small amounts of ancillary income from YouTube.

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[TechCrunch, YouTube]

Nights and weekends editor, Gizmodo

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DISCUSSION

Remind me again how much money people with less then 1,000 subscribers were making from YouTube? Really the only time I can see someone actually getting “fucked” over by YouTube with that rule is if they had a small channel with almost no viewership, happened to post something, and that went viral and got like 50 million views. Which kinda makes sense, YouTube is trying to replace traditional media, specifically TV. The entry is still dead easy (compared to being on a TV show) and requires almost zero initial capital and doesn’t require moving to Hollywood. Work your ass off, adjust your content based on your analytics to maximize your impact, and build a routine schedule. Growing past 1,000 subscribers shouldn’t be hard if you’re worth anything.

Ask any of the big guys and I would be shocked if any of them said the couple bucks payout when they had less then 1,000 subscribers was the determining factor of them staying in the channel or not. I’m fact, I would be surprised if most of them actually thought YouTube revenue could be something to actually count on until they were 50k or 100k subscribers.

So ya, YouTube took away a few bucks from a bunch of people but hardly “fucked” them over...