The signs were all in play for a move like this: we had creators like Phil DeFranco who were publishing at their own websites over YouTube. New and more powerful rivals were popping up to get in on YouTube’s action — rivals with more money — and that meant poaching YouTube’s stars instead of taking the time and risk of trying to create their own. Beauty vlogger Zoella’s massive debut book success might have been the last straw.
Now YouTube is allegedly willing to pay to keep its hold on creators. Offering massive performance-based bonuses to those who sign multi-year contracts, YouTube is hoping that its hold on its minted millionaires is a firm one. It might be too late though.
Between Facebook and YouTube’s newest rival, Vessel, the poaching has already begun. And the idea from Vessel’s CEO ex-Hulu CEO Jason Kilar is a simple, and damaging, one: Pay through the nose for 72-hour exclusivity to YouTuber’s new videos.
Oftentimes, the majority of views come in those first couple days, from the die-hard fans, the ones that will buy the merchandise, go to the conventions to meet their idols and watch the advertising. In short: these are the fans that will spend the money. And that makes these early adopters incredibly valuable.
While creators are keeping mum about who is doing deals with Vessel and Facebook, with news that Vessel is rolling out its Hulu-like online service later this month, clearly some stars have indeed imbibed the Kool-Aid.
As expected, YouTube outwardly appears calm and collected. This line from The Verge is especially telling: “A YouTube spokeswoman told the Journal that there’s nothing unusual about the investment in video makers and that YouTube has ‘been increasing that support through a broad range of activities including marketing and content funding.’”
Likely this means that YouTube (and more to the point, Google) is freaking the f**k out. Now is the time to see if YouTube’s creators are as loyal to YouTube as their fans are to them. Entertainment is a cash industry though and it is money that does the talking. How deep are YouTube’s pockets?