In January 2018, YouTube announced a revised version of its Partner Program. While changes were expected, many viewers and uploaders didn't see the extent of the update coming. Previously, users and companies had to reach 10,000 lifetime views to become part of the program; in the very near future, they'll need at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time on their channel to join the program.
Why is joining the program such a big deal? It allows users to monetize their channels, effectively joining a profit-sharing venture with YouTube. The program also allows users to add End Screens and Cards to their videos that feature:
- External links to commercial websites (as in, beyond company channels and other videos)
- Crowdfunding opportunities
In addition, and a huge factor for famous uploaders, YouTube is also revising how it shares revenue with creators through the Google Preferred program. In the new program, every single video submitted as a Google Preferred ad will be reviewed—manually—by a human moderator. In fact, Google recently hired around 10,000 people to solely review video content and ads from top contributors to weed out unsuitable countent.
There's an entirely different conversation on where the borders are between censorship and free speech, copyright and creative expression, extreme content and editorial. For the purposes of this blog, however, we'll tackle both sides of the coin on YouTube's new Partner Program rules.
Why Are People Reacting So Strongly to the YouTube Partner Program?
The amount of push-back YouTube has received over the Partner policy changes concern the high barrier of entry the update has on new or rising business users and YouTube stars, and the retroactive effect the update has on previous partners.
Partners that met the previous requirement of 10,000 lifetime views, but do not meet the new requirements of 1,000 followers and 4,000 hours of watch-time on their channel in the past year, are out. That means no monetization, no revenue, and limited capabilities for up-and-coming users.
However, while this update has broad implications (it affects a huge amount of aspiring YouTube uploaders and companies), for most, it doesn't have significant impact on an individual basis. The following is a quote from a YouTube accouncement by Neal Mohan, Youtube Chief Product Officer and Robert Kyncl, YouTube Chief Business Officer:
Though these changes will affect a significant number of channels, 99% of those affected were making less than $100 per year in the last year, with 90% earning less than $2.50 in the last month.
Effectively, if you're trying to get your new company, gaming or reaction channel off the ground, the new rules make seeing any financial gain through YouTube that much more difficult.
Are the New Rules That Bad?
If the above quote is accurate, the updated Program is an inconvienience and sets a higher bar for aspiring creators; however, it can also serve as a strong deterrent for unabashed uploaders of copyrighted materials, other forms of stolen content, and honestly, crappy—if not illegal—channels.
The new rules make it harder for new artists and creators to get started... but they also put up a roadblock for users trying to make money off clips from the hot television show of the week.
Making money on YouTube has always been a challenge. In fact, most small businesses and marketers are nowhere near meeting the old criteria with their own channels. What the update does is prioritize advertising revenue for recognized, top quality uploaders, while putting a broad barrier in place for both aspiring creators and bad channels up to a certain point—a point where YouTube takes notice and the value of your channel has been established by social proof.
"Alright, you mean business. Welcome to the club."
The rules for the new YouTube Partner Program go into effect late February 2018. Previous Partners that do not meet the new requirements will be granted a 30-day grace period on February 20th.