3. Check out YouTube Red: AdSense isn’t the only way partners can make money on YouTube. You can also make videos available on YouTube Red, which is the site’s ad-free subscription service. And if you have more than 1,000 active subscribers, you can put videos behind a paywall and enable Super Chat, which lets viewers pay to have their messages highlighted during a live stream. To use that feature, partners have to be older than 18.
After all, relatability is a YouTuber’s greatest asset — along with a willingness to keep plugging away. “If you’re passionate about it, you really increase your chances of success,” says Asano. “It’s a lot of work. To produce just one video, you need camera equipment, a computer to edit it on, and time. And if you’re just starting out, you’re not going to get paid for a while because you need to build your subscribers. Don’t do it because you think you’re going to make an easy buck, because it’s not.”
ChuChu’s headquarters take up the entire first floor of a blue-glass building with bright-yellow stripes. Rows of animators flank a center aisle that houses big, colorful flourishes—weird chairs, structural columns with graffiti on them—signifying “fun tech office!” The work floor is ringed by maybe 10 offices that house the higher-ups. ChuChu says it employs about 200 people.
Where eyeballs go, money follows. “People giving up TV and getting video content through mobile devices is a huge trend, and brands are spending huge amounts to reach those audiences,” says Evan Asano, the CEO of MediaKix, an influencer marketing agency. “It’s a similar, if not bigger market for influencers than Instagram.” Another reason brands love YouTube is that its numbers are harder to fake. “You can buy views on YouTube, but it’s much more expensive than buying followers and likes on Instagram,” Asano says. “It’s pretty cost-prohibitive to drastically inflate a channel’s views on a consistent basis.”
The 1990s and 2000s saw the growth of cable TV channels targeted at children. With the rise of ubiquitous merchandising deals and niche content, powerful American media companies such as Disney, Turner, and Viacom figured out how to make money off young kids. They created, respectively, the Disney Channel, the Cartoon Network, and, of course, Nickelodeon, which was the most watched cable channel during traditional television’s peak year, 2009–10 (Nielsen’s measurement period starts and ends in September). Since then, however, little kids have watched less and less television; as of last spring, ratings in 2018 were down a full 20 percent from just last year. As analysts like to put it, the industry is in free fall. The cause is obvious: More and more kids are watching videos online.
Still, one of the main ways (or easiest) to earn money on YouTube is through YouTube running ads on your videos. Once you get a certain amount of views, you can connect your account to a Google AdSense account, which will allow you to start earning money on your videos, according to USA Today. In order to qualify, you reportedly now need (as of January 2018) 4,000 watch hours in the past 12 months, plus 1,000 subscribers to join the YouTube Partner Program (which will get you ads and therefore cash from your channel).
I worry about these questions a lot, and I wonder if our 21st-century American institutions are up to the challenges they’ve created with their market successes and ethical abdications. Even so, when I visited Chennai, I felt okay about the media future we’re heading into. The toddler videos that ChuChu is posting on YouTube are cultural hybrids, exuberant and cosmopolitan, and in a philosophical sense they presuppose a world in which all children are part of one vast community, drawing on the world’s collective heritage of storytelling. That’s a rich narrative rootstock, with lots of lessons to teach—and right now who’s better poised to make the most of it than ChuChu and companies like it, especially if they can learn from the legacy of American educational TV?
As more advertising dollars flow to YouTube, it's making the already hugely profitable Google even more prosperous. On Thursday, Google's corporate parent — Alphabet Inc., based in Mountain View, Calif. — said the company overall earned $5.1 billion, or $7.25 a share in the third quarter, up 27% from the same quarter last year. After subtracting advertising commissions, revenue climbed 21% to $18.3 billion. Both figures beat analyst projections.
But sponsorships are where the big bucks are made, and where intermediaries like MediaKix and other agencies come in. This is the major leagues: Most brands aren’t interested in YouTube channels with fewer than 200,000 to 300,000 subscribers or average views of less than 10,000 to 20,000 per video, says Asano. The bar is also high because videos cost more to make, and require tricky negotiations —the sponsor will want to know where their product will be featured, for how long, and so forth. “When we’re connecting top brands with top influencers on YouTube, you’re talking a minimum budget of $50,000 to $100,000, and it just goes up from there,” Asano explains. “Some of the biggest YouTube influencers get paid $100,000 to 200,000 for a single video. And then those videos get millions of views. That’s why there’s a lot of money in the space.”
As Grayson notes, PewDiePie’s endorsement of the E;R channel continues a long trend of the vlogger using his influence to normalize white supremacist alt-right rhetoric to an alarming — and, on YouTube, increasingly widespread — degree. In 2016 and 2017, PewDiePie faced intense backlash for multiple instances in which he promoted Nazi symbolism and anti-Semitism, including a video in which he threw a Nazi “heil” salute, and one in which he hired a pair of performers from a freelancer website to hold up a sign reading “Death to all Jews,” ostensibly as a satirical exercise. He followed that so-called stunt with a video where he used a racist slur during a gaming live stream.
In 2013, the average cost per thousand (CPM) for YouTube was $7.60. CPM (cost per thousand) is an industry term that represents revenue per thousand views. In 2013, the average income for each YouTube content creator was $7.60 per every thousand views. A video with 500 views would have earned roughly $3.80. A video like Gangnam Style with a billion views would earn $7.8 million. Some videos earn a higher or lower than average rate depending on the video content. Videos containing copyrighted music do not earn revenue for the video creator, and some topics may not attract advertisers. Others have a strong draw from advertisers and drive up the CPM.
ChuChu is largely making things up as it goes, responding—as any young company would—to what its consumers want. Despite the company’s earnest desire to educate the kids who watch its videos, it has not tried to use the lessons generated by previous generations of educational-TV makers. Its executives and developers don’t regularly work with academics who could help them shape their content to promote healthy development of young brains. So what effects are ChuChu’s shows having on kids? How does what it’s producing compare with whatever kids were watching before?
YouTube Go is an Android app aimed at making YouTube easier to access on mobile devices in emerging markets. It is distinct from the company's main Android app and allows videos to be downloaded and shared with other users. It also allows users to preview videos, share downloaded videos through Bluetooth, and offers more options for mobile data control and video resolution.
The SEC late last year prodded the company to explain why it doesn’t share YouTube data, according to regulatory filings in February. Accounting rules require companies to disclose revenue for operating segments that account for 10% of a company’s total revenue, profit or combined assets. YouTube’s numbers are included in Alphabet’s advertising figure.
An independent test in 2009 uploaded multiple versions of the same song to YouTube, and concluded that while the system was "surprisingly resilient" in finding copyright violations in the audio tracks of videos, it was not infallible. The use of Content ID to remove material automatically has led to controversy in some cases, as the videos have not been checked by a human for fair use. If a YouTube user disagrees with a decision by Content ID, it is possible to fill in a form disputing the decision. Prior to 2016, videos weren't monetized until the dispute was resolved. Since April 2016, videos continue to be monetized while the dispute is in progress, and the money goes to whoever won the dispute. Should the uploader want to monetize the video again, they may remove the disputed audio in the "Video Manager". YouTube has cited the effectiveness of Content ID as one of the reasons why the site's rules were modified in December 2010 to allow some users to upload videos of unlimited length.
YouTube also has a more democratic appeal. Unlike Instagram, where the biggest influencers are mainstream megastars in their own right (Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Beyoncé), YouTube is dominated by homegrown celebrities, such as Jenna Mourey (a.k.a. Jenna Marbles), Mariand Castrejón Castañeda (a.k.a. Yuya, a Mexican beauty vlogger), and a bunch of gamers that I’ve never heard of but have millions of fans. The world’s highest-paid YouTube star is Daniel Middleton, a British 26-year-old who goes by “DanTDM” and gained his fortune (an estimated annual income of $16.5 million, per Forbes) by posting videos of himself playing Minecraft. Last year, he did an international tour that included four sold-out nights at the Sydney Opera House.
On November 6, 2013, Google implemented a comment system oriented on Google+ that required all YouTube users to use a Google+ account in order to comment on videos. The stated motivation for the change was giving creators more power to moderate and block comments, thereby addressing frequent criticisms of their quality and tone. The new system restored the ability to include URLs in comments, which had previously been removed due to problems with abuse. In response, YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim posted the question "why the fuck do I need a google+ account to comment on a video?" on his YouTube channel to express his negative opinion of the change. The official YouTube announcement received 20,097 "thumbs down" votes and generated more than 32,000 comments in two days. Writing in the Newsday blog Silicon Island, Chase Melvin noted that "Google+ is nowhere near as popular a social media network as Facebook, but it's essentially being forced upon millions of YouTube users who don't want to lose their ability to comment on videos" and "Discussion forums across the Internet are already bursting with outcry against the new comment system". In the same article Melvin goes on to say:
So, predictably, by the time it was 10 a.m., I had made and consumed two cups of coffee, taken out the trash, cleaned my room while taking a deliberately slow approach to folding my shirts, gone on a walk outside to clear my head, had a thing of yogurt and fruit to reward the physical exertion, sent an email to my aunt and sister, read about 100 Tweets (favorited three; written and deleted one), despaired at my lack of progress, comforted myself by eating a second breakfast, opened several tabs from ESPN.com on my browser ... and written absolutely nothing.
And throughout many videos focused on Steven Universe, E;R presents the show’s characters as analogues for Jewish people, coding them with anti-Semitic stereotypes. In one such video, he portrays one character as a deceptive tool for a global Jewish conspiracy, as indicated by a montage of public figures and businessmen, and then ends the video with an altered version of a white supremacist slogan known as the “14 words.”
In December 2011, YouTube launched a new version of the site interface, with the video channels displayed in a central column on the home page, similar to the news feeds of social networking sites. At the same time, a new version of the YouTube logo was introduced with a darker shade of red, the first change in design since October 2006. In May 2013, YouTube launched a pilot program for content providers to offer premium, subscription-based channels within the platform. In February 2014, Susan Wojcicki was appointed CEO of YouTube. In November 2014, YouTube announced a subscription service known as "Music Key", which bundled ad-free streaming of music content on YouTube with the existing Google Play Music service.