×

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

  • FaceApp is displayed on an iPhone,

    SAG-AFTRA Warns Members About FaceApp Terms of Use

    SAG-AFTRA is warning its 160,000 members about the “overreaching and invasive” terms of use for the FaceApp mobile application. FaceApp, developed by Russian company Wireless Lab, uses neural network technology to automatically generate transformations of faces in photographs. The app can be used to make users appear older, younger, or change gender. The terms include [...]

  • J. Cole

    Apple Music Launches 'Rap Life' Playlist

    Apple Music announced the launch of “Rap Life,” a new global playlist focusing on contemporary rap artists and culture. It replaces the former “The A-List: Hip-Hop” playlist. Said Ebro Darden, Apple Music’s Global Editorial Head of Hip-Hop and R&B: “We flipped it to dig deeper into into the lifestyle [and to] keep pushing the culture [...]

  • Billie Eilish

    ARRI, Mobile TV Group Back New Venture Revitalizing Streamed Concerts

    A new venture looking to bring a fresh approach to live-streaming concerts has gotten the backing of hardware heavyweights ARRI and Mobile TV Group. Wide+Close is launching with the mandate of shooting music performances with film cameras and cinematographers in order to give the content a more cinematic feel. “We want to take concert filming [...]

  • Fortnite Battle Royale

    How 'Fortnite' Fans Can Earn Loot by Watching YouTube Videos

    Epic Games and YouTube have teamed up with a special offer for “Fortnite” players — giving players of the popular battle-royale game rewards when they watch “Fortnite”-premiered content on the video platform. The catch: You have to watch at least 20 minutes of “Fortnite” special content or live esports broadcasts to receive the loot. Under [...]

  • Roku headquarters

    Roku Plans to Expand to Brazil, Other Countries (EXCLUSIVE)

    Roku plans to expand to multiple new territories in the coming months, Variety has learned. One of the first new markets for the company will likely be Brazil. An international expansion could help Roku grow its customer base, which in turn should lead to growing advertising revenues. Roku executives have been hinting at plans to [...]

  • Google Stadia Pro to Include 1

    Google’s Stadia Game Streaming Service to Include Free Monthly Game

    Google has been busy sharing additional details about its upcoming game streaming service Stadia, clearing up some confusion in the process. Stadia’s pro subscription tier, which will cost $10 per month, won’t be a Netflix-type subscription service. However, subscribers will get free games at the rate of about a title per month. That’s according to [...]

  • Crypt-TV-Facebook

    Facebook Signs Deal With Crypt TV for Slate of Five Horror Series

    Crypt TV, the digital studio founded by Eli Roth and Jack Davis and backed by Jason Blum, expanded its deal with Facebook, inking a content partnership to create a slate of five horror and monster-themed series exclusively for Facebook Watch. For Facebook Watch, it’s one of the first deals for a full slate of content [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content