YouTube Adds More Pay Features to Its Free Video Services

YouTube introduced two new paid features that are expected to help the company and its video creators make more money.

The company rolled out Super Stickers, animated illustrations that will be sold in packs, for YouTube’s Super Chat, a live chat that lets users pay money to highlight and pin their comments. YouTube also now allows video creators to offer monthly channel memberships on five different price levels, rewarding members with perks like exclusive live streams and extra videos based on the amount of money spent. YouTube made the announcements at its 10th annual VidCon on Thursday in Anaheim, Calif.

The monetization tools are expected to increase earning potentials for video creators, many of who use the service as their sole income provider. But they’re also expected provide nominal income for YouTube—the company takes 30% of each sale—and help diversify the company’s revenue, which is driven by ads and subscriptions to its streaming TV service.

The announcements follows last year’s introductions of Super Chat, a merchandising tool that allows video creators to sell products on their YouTube channel, and channel memberships, which then cost $4.99 per month. YouTube said the pay features are showing promise.

“Thousands have more than doubled the amount they’re generating from YouTube as a result,” said YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan of the last year’s new features.

Alphabet, YouTube’s parent company, has been relatively quiet about the video service’s financial performance, lumping its earnings in with those of Google. But during the first quarter, Alphabet mentioned that its paid clicks were continuing to fall, driven partially by a deceleration of clicks on YouTube’s ads.

But Mohan also said that YouTube’s 2 billion users are creating an “enormous amount of momentum” for video creators. YouTube has experienced a 75% annual increase in creators with more than 1 million subscribers, he said. Meanwhile, creators making between five and six figures on the service has jumped 40% annually, he added.

In addition to the two new monetization tools, YouTube also announced three other new features at VidCon.

The company is giving video creators the ability to add a fundraising button to their videos, allowing viewers to donate to charitable causes. This will allow creators to encourage others to support the causes they care about most.

YouTube also is piloting something it calls Learning Playlists, which will be free, preset educational playlists created by YouTube partners like Khan Academy, TED-Ed, and crash course. Mohan said if the educational playlists prove to be popular, YouTube could expand the feature to other content creators.

Lastly, YouTube is also expanding the merchandising tool it rolled out last year to work with merchandising companies Crowdmade, DFTBA, Fanjoy, Represent, and Rooster Teeth. The tool was previously was only available via Teespring.

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