YouTube is entering a new phase where loyalty and popularity will be tested and come at a costly price should you fail in either of these categories
YouTube: It’s become the new form of media entertainment for the younger generation over the last few years, ever since its huge growth in popularity back in late 2011. Gaming, Vlogging and Music are just some of the categories of videos which have exploded in popularity over the past few years, thanks to YouTube. You Tubers such as Daniel ‘Nerd³’ Hardcastle, a very popular gaming personality who has just over 2.3 million subscribers and just over 800 million overall video views; Emma Blackery, a prominent Vlogging personality on You Tube with just over a million subscribers and around 93 million overall video views; and Megan Nicole, a YouTube music personality with just under 3.3 million subscribers and 660 million overall video views, are just some of the YouTubers representing different categories who shot to fame.
So why do YouTubers like these three make the content that they do? Simple: Money through advertisements.
That’s right. Just like any TV or radio station would do, YouTubers get paid by advertisers to display advertisements at the beginning (and optionally, at certain midpoints) of their video, with many making content creation for their YouTube audiences their full-time job. However, due to a new emerging option from Google for fans, full-time You Tubers may not be able to sustain themselves just on YouTube for much longer …
Earlier this week, Google announced that they were launching ‘YouTube Red’; a subscription service for YouTube users where a fee of a mere $10 can be paid to watch videos without any advertisements and have the option to save YouTube videos for offline viewing as well as being able to listen to YouTube videos on your phone without having to have the app open—similarly to how music apps and the Twitch.TV app do so.
Also, the service will provide access to exclusive content for subscribers such as original YouTube series and movies, a category of exclusive content from top YouTube stars like PewDiePie and the latest TV shows and movies, sometime next year. Currently, the service is only available in the United States, but Google are working to spread its availability to a worldwide audience. For the present, it will be released in the US on the 28th of October.
Whilst this new service may seem great for those of you who despise clicking on the latest video from your favourite YouTuber only to be faced with an advertisement, this could be awful news for those who rely on YouTube as their full-time income. Due to the service’s ‘benefit’ of removing all advertisements from every YouTube video, this means that the way YouTubers receive payment for their content will be changing dramatically.
Now, it hasn’t actually been announced how creators who rely on advertisements will be paid by those who watch their videos and opt for YouTube Red however, what can be assumed is this: YouTube will take a small percentage out of the $10 subscription fee, and for every separate YouTuber that the subscriber watches every month, the $10 will be split between each creator depending on a number of factors (for example, how many videos the subscriber watches of each YouTuber).
So let’s make an example: Here, we have a YouTube Red subscriber who watches about five different YouTubers in a month. First, YouTube takes out 10 per cent of the subscription fee leaving $1 dollar to be split amongst the five different YouTubers. Let’s say the subscriber is a loyal follower of two of the five YouTubers and so will watch far more videos of theirs than the other three—the others will only be watched approximately one or two times a month. This means that the two favourite YouTubers will get the majority of that $1 whilst the other three will get absolutely nothing. The issue itself becomes especially clear though, once you realise how loyal certain fanbases are of certain YouTubers; meaning that the more popular YouTubers with an established fanbase will get most of the money from YouTube Red subscribers, whilst the less popular ones will make very little.
I think we can all start to see the main problem that YouTube Red could cause. Because of how the money would be split, the rich and popular would get richer and the poor … well, they get nothing and I can’t see any other way that YouTube could work around the advertisement issue without it being unfair to the less popular YouT.
The thing is, YouTube is a very audience-driven platform and the issue is, YouTube Red will only make those with the most faithful audiences earners whilst the rest will barely be able to sustain themselves. Eventually, this will drive away the smaller YouTubers and any new ones will also gradually leave being unable to physically win loyal audience members from the established YouTubers.
In time, there is a real danger that he whole structure of YouTube may collapse as the leading YouTubers eventually become obsolete with no one to take their place.