It looks like YouTube is finally ready to extend an olive branch to creators who have long been frustrated by the ad revenue split, usually pegged at 45/55. However the balance isn’t going to come out of YouTube’s pocket. Instead, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced a new feature that would allow creators to solicit fan funding for their content.
The feature borrows a play from outside fan funding platforms like Patreon and Subbable, which have aimed to help creators monetize their loyal fan bases instead of relying purely on ad dollars. Viewers will have the ability to donate up to $500 to a given creator. The hope is that fan donations can help to bolster creator incomes without diminishing YouTube’s share of the ad dollars their content generates. However, lest you think that YouTube has enabled this feature out of the kindness of its corporate heart, fear not: the platform will be taking a 5 percent cut of all donations plus a 21 cent transaction fee for its trouble.
Fan funding capitalizes on one of the unique aspects of the YouTube ecosystem — the fact that many creators have highly engaged fans who actively watch and interact with content. While ad revenue only measures views it cannot differentiate between passive viewers and an engaged interactive audience. Fan funding will bridge that gap by providing the most enthusiastic viewers the ability to express their love of creative content with cold, hard cash. So far, fan funding platforms have had mixed results. Early enthusiasm generally gives way to apathy after an initial outburst of support. As long as content remains free and available, it’s unlikely that more than a small fraction of audiences will altruistically pay for it.
Would you be willing to donate to support your favorite creators (and a struggling start-up website called YouTube.com)?