What do you do when you’re a well-established, deep pocketed technology giant facing tough competition in the form of savvy upstarts that are increasingly stealing your audience and top talent?
If you’re YouTube, worried about rivals like Twitch, you open the company wallet and make it rain on top content creators, in the hope it will keep them around.
That’s apparently what’s going on at the moment, according to a Bloomberg report that says the Google-owned video streaming giant is trying to make its vast audience more aware of monetization tools and other features available to them. One way it’s reportedly doing that is by paying top creators, who aren’t named in the report, to tout the features, and it’s apparently locking some of those creators into agreements that don’t require exclusivity but require their content to appear first on YouTube.
Some creators are reportedly being offered as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars a year if they’ll use new donation and paid membership tools that YouTube recently introduced.
Explains the Bloomberg report, “YouTube introduced paid memberships, paid chats and a new merchandising program earlier this year to placate top talent and keep up with major competitors. Many people with large followings on the video site have complained that it doesn’t offer ways to make money beyond advertising, and that YouTube’s efforts to shield advertisers from controversial content has hurt their sales.”
YouTube’s competition, of course, smells blood. Stars of the video streaming giant have been approached by Facebook and Instagram. If the creators want to get away from as heavy a reliance on advertising, they can also try the subscription models afforded by services like Twitch and Patreon.
YouTube, for its part, says it isn’t doing anything new at the moment in terms of the way it compensates creators. In a statement, the company said it has “no new initiative” in place and has always “invested” in creators’ success.
The company also says it’s trying to do more to give creators a way to make money from the service beyond advertising. According to the Bloomberg report, that includes making it easier to sell merch and by expanding the pool of users who can sell monthly subscriptions.
There’s also a new Super Chat feature that lets fans of a YouTube celeb pay to highlight a comment to the star in a live stream. “Such features,” Bloomberg notes, “offer higher profit margins to YouTube and its parent company Alphabet Inc., which been been looking to make money from sources beyond advertising.
YouTube chief product officer Neal Mohan told the publication creators have been asking for these features, which the service has built hand-in-hand with them.