By Evan DeSimone
Yesterday, YouTube officially launched YouTube Red, its first full platform foray into SVOD. While the Google-owned video platform has been clear on wanting to ensure that creators get compensated fairly under its new hybridized monetization system, there are still some questions about exactly how.
When it comes to money, YouTube keeps its cards close to the chest. That includes holding back any specifics about what percentage of subscription revenue will find its way into creators’ pockets. Numerous outlets have reported that YouTube will carry over its traditional 55/45 revenue split to the new program, but the video giant hasn’t confirmed that figure. That also doesn’t rule out the possibility that creators with marquee names could receive more favorable non-standardized deals. What is clear is that with Red, the dollar amount will be based on the amount of subscription revenue the service takes in, potentially mediated by a metric like watch time on creators’ individual videos. However with, YouTube Red still in free trial mode, YouTube was quick to reassure creators that they’ll still be receiving compensation.
For now, that compensation will come from the pool of revenue generated by subscribers YouTube Red will inherit from other Google subscription media products such as Google Play Music. In a blog post , YouTube revealed that legacy subscribers would provide the secondary revenue stream needed support creators while YouTube Red is in its audience-building trial phase.
By committing upfront to a payment scheme that keeps YouTube creators earning during the trial period, YouTube Red avoids a potentially crippling PR blow like the one dealt to Apple Music, which controversially refused to pay artists during its trial phase. The choice led to a wave of bad press, tipped off by a game changing blog post from pop-star Taylor Swift. Apple was forced to reverse course and issue a humbling public apology to the country-pop princess.
YouTube creators will all receive a piece of the revenue generated by subscriptions. The size of that piece should logically be governed both by the performance of their video content and by the amount of revenue coming in. YouTube seems confident that even in its nascent stages YouTube Red will pay more than its purely ad-supported model, but nothing will be certain until the trials taper off and the product is forced to stand on its own.