×

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.

More Digital

  • A view of the SK Telecom

    Korean OTT Players, SK Telecom Join Forces to Compete Against Netflix

    South Korea’s three major broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS have joined forces with the country’s leading telecom firm, SK Telecom, to launch a new video streaming platform. The move is regarded as a defensive reaction against the growing influence of foreign competitors, lead by Netflix. The broadcasters already jointly own Pooq, with MBC and SBS [...]

  • Magic leap Is Hiring to Build

    Magic Leap Plans to Expand to Mobile AR

    Magic Leap is getting ready to embrace augmented reality (AR) on mobile devices. The company is currently looking to hire a senior software engineer for mobile AR, who will be tasked with “expanding Magic Leap’s platform to mobile devices,” according to a new job listing. A Magic Leap spokesperson declined to comment. Magic Leap released [...]

  • Microsoft

    Microsoft Hints at Mixed Reality Update for Mobile World Congress

    Microsoft may give us an update on its Mixed Reality ambitions at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month: The company sent out invites for a press conference Wednesday that list Alex Kipman, who leads its augmented and virtual reality efforts, among the speakers. Kipman will speak together with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and corporate vice [...]

  • Sinclair Enters Streaming Arena With Local

    Sinclair Enters Streaming Arena With Entertainment Bundle and Local Channels

    Sinclair Broadcast Group is diving into the increasingly crowded streaming platform arena with the launch today of Stirr, a free OTT entertainment bundle offering local news and general entertainment, sports and lifestyle channels. Sinclair aims to leverage the near-national reach of its sprawling station group with its strong local presence in markets across the country [...]

  • variety digital innovators

    Variety's Digital Innovators 2019: The Trailblazers Pushing Media Boundaries

    A decade ago, when the streaming-video revolution was in its infancy, the internet was more complementary than disruptive to Hollywood. Those days are gone. New platforms have risen up as Silicon Valley players have bulldozed onto the scene, and the media biz is rebuilding the ways it reaches audiences. With the inaugural Variety Digital Innovators [...]

  • MODEL RELEASED Hand holding iPhone with

    Netflix Q4 Preview: Price Hike Signals Strong Year-End Quarter

    Netflix is feeling its oats with a price hike across all streaming plans in the U.S.: Coming just two days before it reports fourth-quarter 2018 results, the timing of the fee increases may indicate the company will report a big beat on Q4 expectations. The streamer is scheduled to report earnings on Thursday, Jan. 17, after [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content