YouTube has transformed from a site hosting endless cat videos to one with dedicated creators producing studio-quality content. For example, video game streamers appear next to conspiracy documentaries from Shane Dawson and lighthearted social experiments by The Try Guys. Meanwhile, food challenges like “Hot Ones” and comedy talk shows like “Good Mythical Morning” have drawn mainstream celebrities onto the platform.
Ad revenue has traditionally given these creators a way to monetize their efforts. Now, YouTube is adding new ways to make money. Notably, its new Super Chat feature allows fans to pay for a top spot or post animated stickers in the comments section during live streams.
VidCon, the annual convention celebrating digital content creators, is a yearly highlight for YouTube. This year, the platform announced that over 90,000 channels use the Super Chat feature. Following its 2017 debut, the program quickly caught on, helping some streamers make more than $400 per minute.
YouTube CFO Neal Mohan says, “For over 20,000 channels on YouTube, Super Chat is now the primary means of revenue generation.”
This figure is significant, considering that ads have traditionally been the primary revenue stream since the platform started to monetize videos. Currently, top creators on YouTube are earning upwards of six figures per year. Plus, the number of those who fall into the five-to-six-figure category has steadily grown by 40 percent every year.
At VidCon in 2018, YouTube announced merchandise opportunities that allow some channels to sell shirts, hats, stickers, and more. A membership feature was also unveiled, giving viewers a way to subscribe. All of these improvements are part of the company’s effort to retain creators, amid the rise of alternatives like Patreon and Twitch.
Now, YouTube is adding even more merch partners. So, viewers will be able to participate more in chats with new Super Stickers. The large, animated graphics appear in the chat box after a user purchases them.
Meanwhile, channels will have new membership options that allow them to divide members into five unique tiers. Based on a monthly subscription price, creators can offer perks like signed merch, video shoutouts, or behind-the-scenes content to different levels of members. This system mimics the one Patreon uses. As such, it likely marks another effort for YouTube to stay competitive.
Of course, these innovations aren’t being added because YouTube has a kind heart. Every time a creator makes money on the platform, the company takes a cut. In a way, the system works for the benefit of everyone, since creators doing better equals YouTube doing better.
With more people joining the platform every day, YouTube will undoubtedly continue to improve its service. By attracting talented creators, their symbiotic relationship can flourish, and viewers can enjoy the benefits.