YouTube Partnership Requirements Change Leading Towards Improvements

I spend an embarrassing amount of time on YouTube, and hardly ever reveal the number of videos I watch per week with my friends. One video leads to another and before I realize it I’m three hours into the rabbit hole of recommended videos and still have 200 other videos on my Watch Later list waiting for me to crack them open. I don’t think I’m as bad as people who marathon “The Office” twice a quarter (even though that’s exactly what an addict in denial would say), but it’s still poor time-management on a massive scale.

My extensive YouTube usage has exposed me to a countless number of creators, most of whom monetize their content and gain revenue through ads placed before or inside of their videos.

An official Creator Blog post on Jan. 16 detailed alterations to the website’s eligibility requirements for access to the monetization feature, the YouTube Partnership Program (YPP). Now, instead of a lifetime 10,000 channel views, creators must log a combination of 4,000 total view hours in the last year and 1,000 subscribers. While these changes have upset many smaller channels, this is a bold step for YouTube that will better allocate their ad revenue and also help mitigate advertisers leaving the platform to avoid broadcasting on controversial content.

I always found it ridiculous that channels with one-hit video could monetize every video they produced. It is surprisingly easy to hit the previous YPP requirement of 10,000 lifetime views, with most of the smaller, niche channels that I follow crushing that requirement with a single hit while the rest of their uploads struggle to hit 200 views. These accounts make literal cents from these videos, and YouTube sends them this money despite it doing nothing to help the channel owner and only serving to direct ad revenue towards people who don’t need and truthfully don’t deserve it.

Small channels have taken to social media to attack these changes, arguing that the inability to monetize their content will take away the incentive to create for profit. This belief is misguided, as content on YouTube should not be made with purely monetary goals in mind. I view YouTube as, more or less, an art form. While there are definitely ways and reasons for artists to make money from the content they produce, the core purpose of creation should always be a passion to make something rather than to make a quick buck. Channels that solely focus on financial gain should not be on YouTube in the first place, and this new plan will be a great way to prevent people from abusing the easily invaded ecosystem that the platform has recently entered.

Besides tiny channels not deserving money from their videos, most of them hardly receive enough to even make it worth their while. Ads only matter when views reach up to the hundred of thousands, although YouTube has been sending channels who will never reach this number less than a dollar per month for making subpar videos that just so happen to be viewed by some really bored college students. This not only hurts YouTube (obvious fact – sending out tons of miniscule sums eventually adds up to a large amount of money), but really does nothing for these creators besides reward them for pumping out garbage.

Raising the bar for monetization will ensure that creators are getting the money they deserve, as well as not wasting YouTube’s time tossing pennies to millions of people around the world. 4,000 view hours in a year seems to be the website’s way of making sure that they only send ad revenue to people who will actually generate a decent amount of money in exchange for a decent amount of engaging, well-produced videos.

Thinning the amount of users in the YPP also allows the website to better monitor what videos are being monetized, and will hopefully ease advertisers’ fears that their ad will be featured on the next PewDiePie slur highlight or animated Spiderman smut film.

The intricacies of YouTube’s monetization system may not be interesting to many, but they matter a lot when your favorite creators decide to step up their game in order to stay within the new requirements. These changes can only spell bigger and better things from dedicated YouTubers, and I can’t wait to watch every second of it.

Isaac Espinosa is a third-year electrical engineering major. He can be reached at imespino@uci.edu.