YouTube Launches Monthly ‘Channel Memberships’ for Exclusive Content, Live Streams

VidCon 2018: New $4.99 per month service was announced by Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan on Thursday

YouTube is looking to give creators more ways to cash in on their audiences, with the video giant launching a new paid-membership plan that gives users exclusive content, Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan announced at VidCon 2018 in Anaheim, California, on Thursday.

Big-time YouTubers will soon have a “channel memberships” option, where viewers get access to special live streams, bonus content, and custom emojis. The memberships will cost $4.99 a month. Creators with 100,000 or more subscribers — and that are advertiser-friendly, according to Google — will see memberships roll out in the coming weeks, a YouTube spokesperson told TheWrap.

“Channel memberships” looks to be the Google-owned platform’s stab at taking on Patreon — a service many creators have used to solicit donations from their fans, in return for content, in recent years. It’s also a sign that YouTube is looking to expand beyond its reliance on advertisements to generate revenue.

Another new way for creators to make money on YouTube? Merchandise. It’s not just for your favorite pop stars anymore. Mohan announced creators with 10,000 or more subscribers will now be able sling merchandise underneath their videos. YouTube has partnered with Teespring to give creators 20 options on merch they can sell, from mugs to phone cover to t-shirts to pillows. Viewers in the U.S. will see the merch option under videos starting on Thursday.

Viewers will now see merchandise under videos starting on Thursday (via YouTube)

The new features are part of YouTube’s push to remain the go-to video hub for creators. Mohan’s announcement comes one day after Facebook-owned Instagram launched “IGTV,” its new hour-long video app. By leveraging content from social stars — including vlogs, a YouTube staple — “IGTV” is aiming to steal away eyeballs from the dominant video platform. Mohan championed YouTube’s monetization options on Thursday, saying creators earning five-figures a year increased 35 percent year-over-year, and creators making six-figures increased 40 percent — without disclosing how many creators that is.