At Vidcon yesterday, YouTube announced new ways creators can make money and grow their communities on the platform. These changes include channel memberships, merchandise, and the ability to run pre-recorded videos as a “live moment” that creators and fans can watch together.
In the past few years, creators on YouTube have had to turn to other services such as Patreon and Twitch in order to supplement their careers. Many creators on YouTube, such as Casey Neistat, Philip DeFranco, and Ethan and Hila Klein from h3h3, have openly criticized YouTube for its failure to protect them from demonetization and faulty algorithms that affect their viewership and livelihoods. Channel Memberships, which appears to be a cross between what Patreon and Twitch offers to their users, seem to be YouTube’s response to the backlash.
Channel Memberships, which used to be called Sponsorships, allow viewers to pay a $4.99 monthly fee to eligible channels with over 100,000 subscribers in exchange for exclusive digital content such as emojis, badges, and posts in the Community tab that only members can access. YouTube, of course, will be getting a cut out of this fee. Fans who subscribe to Channel Memberships will also gain access to exclusive livestreams, extra videos, and shout-outs from creators. This is different from YouTube Premium, formerly called YouTube Red, which is a paid subscription streaming service for original content, as well as ad-free streaming of all YouTube videos.
YouTube also announced that through their partnership with Teespring, eligible channels (with over 10,000 subscribers and based in the U.S.) will be able to sell customizable merchandise to their fans. Using this feature, currently live, items such as phone covers and plushies can be sold directly from a YouTuber’s channel.
YouTube also announced Premieres, which are a new way for creators to broadcast pre-recorded videos as live content and watch it together with their viewers. Fans can also purchase Super Chats, a feature that YouTube introduced last year, which highlight and pin your comment in the chat box. The amount of time the Super Chat stays pinned onto the chatbox depends on how much money was spent.
According to YouTube’s post, some YouTubers who have tried these features ahead of release are seeing an increase in profits. These changes may be a step in the right direction toward a more positive relationship between YouTube and the individuals who make the website worth turning into; however, only time will tell.