Some investors and others have renewed calls for more transparency from YouTube in light of accounting rules and recent questions raised by the Securities and Exchange Commission about its disclosures. They say YouTube has become a material part of Alphabet’s business and an important driver of its growth, warranting quarterly disclosure of its revenue, costs and profitability. Some investors are also arguing that the lack of disclosure around YouTube could potentially be undervaluing Alphabet.
YouTube ads provided a big percentage of the Segarses’ income during those early days, and worked well with their content. “Our workouts require strategically placed water breaks, which easily lends itself to monetization/ads that aren’t intrusive to the user experience,” says Segars. “People even joke about how relieved they are to see ads and get a quick minute to catch their breath.” Meanwhile, that revenue allowed them to adopt a no-sponsor policy. “It has cut out a lot of monetization opportunities, but our audience is well aware of our stance and appreciates it,” Segars continues. “We think that trust is an important part of building a brand.” As a result, they’ve roped in a loyal audience that’s now willing to pay for a variety of workout programs and meal plans for sale on the Fitness Blender website.
But there is something the company could do immediately to improve the situation. YouTube knows that I—and tens of millions of other people—have watched lots of videos made for toddlers, but it has never once recommended that I switch to YouTube Kids. Think of how hard Facebook works to push users from Instagram onto Facebook and vice versa. Why not try to get more families onto the YouTube Kids app? (Malik Ducard, YouTube’s global head of family and learning, said in a statement that YouTube has “worked hard to raise awareness of the YouTube Kids app through heavy promotion. These promos have helped drive our growth. Today, YouTube Kids has over 14 million weekly viewers and over 70 billion views.”)
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).
“The way YouTube is distributed is not always conducive to ad revenue,” said Tim Bajarin, principal analyst with Campbell-based Creative Strategies, which tracks the the technology sector. “The YouTube ads are on the side, but they are not embedded in the programming, like you see in television.” The current YouTube format might be good for consumers, but that doesn’t mean it’s all that great for the bottom line, Bajarin said. “They are going to have to change things up,” Bajarin said.
Another focus for the viral video platform has been supporting the many creators who have flocked there to create videos. Actress and comedian Grace Helbig, whose channel has 3 million subscribers, joined the site three years ago to start her show because of the creative freedom. “There are no gatekeepers,” said Helbig, who appeared onstage with Wojcicki.
YouTube has taken steps in recent years to entice more direct users, like creating exclusive deals with popular content creators, including Michelle Phan and Epic Rap Battles, and redesigning its home page to make it more of a destination rather than a repository. It has also addressed the issue that YouTube's core audience is too narrowly dominated by young viewers and this year signed a content deal with the NFL to host game clips and interviews.
Google does not provide detailed figures for YouTube's running costs, and YouTube's revenues in 2007 were noted as "not material" in a regulatory filing. In June 2008, a Forbes magazine article projected the 2008 revenue at $200 million, noting progress in advertising sales. In January 2012, it was estimated that visitors to YouTube spent an average of 15 minutes a day on the site, in contrast to the four or five hours a day spent by a typical US citizen watching television. In 2012, YouTube's revenue from its ads program was estimated at $3.7 billion. In 2013 it nearly doubled and estimated to hit $5.6 billion according to eMarketer, while others estimated $4.7 billion. The vast majority of videos on YouTube are free to view and supported by advertising. In May 2013, YouTube introduced a trial scheme of 53 subscription channels with prices ranging from $0.99 to $6.99 a month. The move was seen as an attempt to compete with other providers of online subscription services such as Netflix and Hulu. In 2017, viewers on average watch YouTube on mobile devices for more than an hour every day.
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Since PewDiePie’s December 9 video drew greater attention to the E;R channel, YouTube has reportedly suspended one of the creator’s videos and issued a strike against the account for violating the site’s community guidelines. The suspended video, which according to E;R had 2 million views at the time of its removal from YouTube, was ostensibly about Steven Universe — but it also contained four minutes of unedited footage of Hitler delivering a speech. YouTube has not yet responded to Vox’s request for comment.
Don’t think watching someone play PS4 sounds like fun? Markiplier’s 22.4 million YouTube subscribers, with their 10 billion video views of his work, beg to differ. Indeed, Fischbach is one of five gamers on this year’s list. The top 10 YouTube stars earned an aggregate $180.5 million this past year, up 42% from 2017. It pays to play: Compared with other common YouTube categories, such as scripted comedy or elaborate pranks, gaming clips can be produced and edited quickly; some gamers post new footage daily. More posts mean more viewers, naturally—and more ad dollars. (The going rate for top online talent, Forbes estimates, is about $5 per thousand views.)
Previously, viewing YouTube videos on a personal computer required the Adobe Flash Player plug-in to be installed in the browser. In January 2010, YouTube launched an experimental version of the site that used the built-in multimedia capabilities of web browsers supporting the HTML5 standard. This allowed videos to be viewed without requiring Adobe Flash Player or any other plug-in to be installed. The YouTube site had a page that allowed supported browsers to opt into the HTML5 trial. Only browsers that supported HTML5 Video using the MP4 (with H.264 video) or WebM (with VP8 video) formats could play the videos, and not all videos on the site were available.
Wait for approval. If you are rejected from the program, you must wait two months before applying again. If approved, you'll be allowed to choose the type of ads you want run on your videos. As of 2011, YouTube partners receive 68 percent of the profit their videos generate through advertising, so advertising your videos and nurturing your followers helps you turn a profit even faster.
In February 2015, YouTube released a secondary mobile app known as YouTube Kids. The app is designed to provide an experience optimized for children. It features a simplified user interface, curated selections of channels featuring age-appropriate content, and parental control features. Later on August 26, 2015, YouTube launched YouTube Gaming—a video gaming-oriented vertical and app for videos and live streaming, intended to compete with the Amazon.com-owned Twitch.