×

YouTube Kills Paid Channels, Expands $4.99 per Month Sponsorship Model

YouTube is getting rid of one of its first paid content models: The Google-owned video site announced Tuesday that it is discontinuing its paid channels initiative, effectively killing the option to sell the content of individual channels to paying subscribers. Instead, YouTube is expanding its sponsorship model, making it available to all YouTube Gaming creators and testing it with some creators within the main YouTube app.

YouTube first introduced paid channels in 2013 as its very first move into the subscription business. Initially launched with a few dozen content partners including the Sesame Workshop, NatGeo Kids and DHX Media, paid channels allowed creators to set their own price for subscriber-only channels on the service.

However, there were signs early on that YouTube’s audience didn’t care much for these paid channels, and the initiative has since been overshadowed by YouTube’s other monetization options, including the site-wide YouTube Red subscription service. At the last count, less than 1% of creators were making use of paid channels, according to YouTube.

One of the ways YouTube is now looking to replace paid channels is a patronage model. YouTube began testing sponsorships with select YouTube Gaming creators in late 2015, and is now making this additional revenue stream available to all of YouTube Gaming. Users can sponsor a creator for $4.99 a month, and in return get custom chat badges and custom emoji as well as access to a sponsor-only chat. Creators can even give them additional perks through third-party integrations.

YouTube product manager Barbara Macdonald said in a blog post Tuesday that sponsorships have been a huge boon for some of the creators who were part of the test phase: “Rocket Beans earned 1,500 sponsors in their first day. And ONE_shot_GURL’s monthly celebratory wall of sponsors is getting so full, it’s running out of room.”

If all goes well, these kinds of sponsorships may one day also be available to all of YouTube’s creators. The video service is starting to test it with a small group of creators within the main YouTube app now, also offering them the chance to sell sponsorships for $4.99 a month.

In addition to these monthly sponsorships, YouTube will also continue to offer creators the ability to sell so-called Super Chats. These are essentially paid messages in a live chat, similar to virtual gifts users can buy on Twitch, YouNow or Musical.ly. Compared to that, sponsorships are more closely comparable to the patronage model established by Patreon, which coincidentally announced a new $60 million round of funding Tuesday.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Gabrielle Carteris

    SAG-AFTRA Urges Gavin Newsom to Sign Law Punishing 'Deep Fake' Videos

    SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White is urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign legislation that institutes penalties for nonconsensual digital sexually explicit videos, also known as “deep fakes.” The legislation, Assembly Bill 602, targets companies and individuals who create and distribute the videos in California without the consent of the individual being depicted. “We urge Gov. [...]

  • Facebook Portal logo

    Facebook Is Launching a Portal TV Device: Here’s What We Know

    Facebook is getting ready to launch a TV streaming device in time for the holiday season, Variety has been able to confirm with multiple sources familiar with the company’s plans. The new streaming hardware will be part of the company’s Portal family of devices, featuring a camera, and combining video chatting with TV viewing and [...]

  • MoviePass card

    MoviePass Shuts Down, With Parent Company Citing Failure to Raise Funds

    MoviePass, the long-struggling theater subscription service, finally appears to be down for the count. On Friday, MoviePass notified remaining subscribers that it would be shutting down the service effective Sept. 14, 2019, because “its efforts to recapitalize MoviePass have not been successful to date,” parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics announced. “The company is continuing [...]

  • Disney Plus - Full Lineup

    How to Browse the Disney Plus Catalog the Company Is Testing in the Netherlands

    Disney began testing its Disney Plus streaming service in the Netherlands this week. Consumers in the U.S. will have to wait until November 12 to get access to the service, but European streaming aggregator JustWatch already makes it possible to browse the catalog available during this beta test. JustWatch is one of a number of [...]

  • JoJo Siwa'The Angry Birds Movie 2'

    Nickelodeon Star JoJo Siwa Gets Her Own Dance-Tour Mobile Game (EXCLUSIVE)

    Fans of JoJo Siwa will be able to join the teen influencer’s dance squad on stage — virtually — in a new mobile game. In “JoJo Siwa — Live to Dance,” players will become part of the Nickelodon and YouTube star’s worldwide tour on her professional dance team and experience what it’s like to be [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content