YouTube Demonetizes Small Channels With New Partnership Policy

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Ian Miles Cheong Contributor
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YouTube has announced new terms to its Partner Program that will effectively demonetize every small channel on the platform.

The company sent a platform-wide email on Tuesday night to give users 30-days’ notice about the site’s new eligibility requirements requiring users to reach a threshold of at least 4,000 hours of watchtime within the past 12 months and a minimum of 1,000 subscribers.

To put it in perspective, 50,000 full views on a single, five-minute video is equal to 4,166 hours — a small order for any decent-sized channel.

Users who fail to meet this threshold will lose complete access to monetization tools and features associated with the YouTube Partner Program next month, on Feb. 20. The terms serve as an effective termination for everyone on the platform who fails to meet the goal by then.

The company has not clarified the status of channels belonging to a partnership network or MCN, which provide smaller channels advertising, monetization and copyright services. However, it states that users who fail to meet eligibility will be paid out whatever they’re currently owed by YouTube.

Channels that fail to meet the requirements but later exceed the threshold will be automatically re-evaluated under new criteria to ensure that their content complies with YouTube policies. New channels will have to manually apply for evaluation.

The company states that the initiative is to “prevent bad actors from harming the inspiring and original creators around the world who make their living on YouTube,” and that the decision ultimately comes from a desire to “protect our creator ecosystem and ensuring your revenue is more stable.”

“These higher standards will also help us prevent potentially inappropriate videos from monetizing which can hurt revenue for everyone,” states YouTube. The company writes:

Though these changes will affect a significant number of channels, 99% of those affected were making less than $100 per year in the last year, with 90% earning less than $2.50 in the last month. Any of the channels who no longer meet this threshold will be paid what they’ve already earned based on our AdSense policies. After thoughtful consideration, we believe these are necessary compromises to protect our community.

The decision to implement the new rules follows the ongoing “adpocalypse,” in which many popular independent YouTube channels saw a tremendous dip in their advertising revenue over the past year.

The reaction to the changes has been met with derision on social media from smaller creators affected by the demonetization, which some expressing the belief that the changes are a backlash to the bad press created by Logan Paul’s “suicide forest” video.

However, not everyone thinks it’s a bad idea—with some stating that the platform should have never automatically monetized new channels in the first place. Prominent voices, including the owner of YouTube’s most popular channel, Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg, expressed some support for the move.

Advertisers’ current ad inventory is spread too thinly throughout the platform across low-quality channels, providing them with a poor return on investment. As such, quality content creators receive very little in the way of ad revenue.

With less fly-by-night channels to compete against for ads, content creators will see increased revenue—at least in theory. Likewise, YouTube will be able to sell ad space on mainly high-quality, monetized channels, providing advertisers with better returns and make the platform more attractive to prospective advertisers.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.

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Ian Miles Cheong