YouTube opens Channel Memberships to more creators & rolls out new revenue opportunities

YouTube is dusting off its revenue drivers for creators and rolling out more options for channels with sizable subscriber numbers to monetize their content.

During the company’s appearance at VidCon this week, YouTube announced three new ways for creators to earn more income on the platform, from opening up subscriber memberships to more channels to merchandising options and a new video format that looks a lot like what Facebook launched earlier this year.

“YouTube is a vibrant community where everyone has a voice. Every day, creators use their voice to entertain, spur action and bring about positive change. That’s why over the last year we’ve doubled down on building the products and tools that the creator community needs,” writes YouTube’s chief product officer, Neal Mohan, on YouTube’s creator blog.

Here’s everything YouTube announced this week:

Channel Memberships

YouTube is now calling its Sponsorships “Channel Memberships” and expanding the feature to channels that are part of the YouTube Partner Program and have 100,000 or more subscribers.

Previously, when they were called Sponsorships, YouTube had made the Channel Membership option available to a select group of creators, allowing subscribers to pay a monthly fee of $4.99. Subscribers that pay the monthly fee have access to account badges, emojis, Members-only posts in the Community tab and exclusive content from creators.

YouTube says comedy creator Mike Falzone tripled his YouTube income this year with revenue generated from Channel Memberships.

Merchandising options for creators

YouTube has also partnered with Teespring to offer creators a merchandising platform with more than 20 items they can customize and sell via their channel and says it plans to expand the number of merchandising partners and availability to more creators soon. According to Teespring, one creator earned more than $1 million in profit over an 18-day period selling a “furry friends” item.

Right now, creators must be US-based channels with at least 10,000 subscribers to have access to Teespring’s merchandising options through YouTube.

Premieres video format (not to be confused with Facebook’s Premieres videos)

Last but not least, YouTube is stealing a page from Facebook’s video offering — all the way down to the product name — with the launch of the new “Premieres” video format.

“With Premieres, creators will be able to debut pre-recorded videos as [a] live moment. When creators choose to release a Premiere, we’ll automatically create a public landing page to build anticipation and hype up new content,” writes Mohan.

If “Premieres” sounds familiar, it’s because Facebook launched “Premieres” videos in April, a video format that allows Facebook creators and publishers to post pre-recorded video as… yes, live footage.

On YouTube, “Premieres” video broadens the opportunity for creators to generate revenue because it takes Super Chat and Channel Membership features — both subscriber fee-based platforms — beyond livestreams.

“For the first time, creators can use Super Chat on traditional YouTube uploads,” writes Mohan. The new video format began rolling out this week to creators with at least 10,000 subscribers. YouTube says it plans to make the format available more broadly soon.

According to YouTube, the number of creators earning five figures on the platform is up 35 percent, and the number of creators earning six figures is up 40 percent. The stats look good, but it will be interesting to see how Instagram’s brand-new IGTV platform, launched this week, impacts YouTube’s creator business. Instagram is making a huge play to pull as many influencers and creators as it can to its new video platform that lets users upload hour-long full-screen vertical video.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said Instagram was “one of the largest and most engaged audiences anywhere in the world” during the IGTV launch event. Now, at 1 billion active monthly users, Instagram has just over half of YouTube’s 1.9 billion users — but the introduction of long-form video content combined with Instagram’s already influencer-heavy environment could create real competition for YouTube.

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is Third Door Media’s General Assignment Reporter, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including,, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.

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