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YouTube just made it easier for creators to make money without ads

Just one day after Instagram revealed its new, YouTube-like service, YouTube is announcing new features meant to entice its most influential users.

The Google-owned platform announced two new features that will help video creators make more money from their channels: the ability to sell merchandise alongside their videos, and the ability to sell paid memberships.

For creators, these updates represent two potentially significant forms of additional revenue that aren’t advertising.

Until now, merchandising has been available to a handful of beta testers but hasn’t been widely available. Beginning tomorrow, it will be available to any U.S.-based channel with at least 10,000 subscribers. The result of a partnership with e-commerce platform Teespring, the feature lets channel-owners sell branded T-shirts, phone cases, mugs, and other items.

YouTubers can now sell merch alongside their channel.

YouTubers can now sell merch alongside their channel.

Image: youtube

YouTube won’t take a cut of merchandise revenue, but Teespring does charge a flat fee per product. Still, YouTube says it can be a lucrative opportunity for its creators. One early beta tester, YouTuber Joshua Slice, pulled in more than $1 million in 18 days, according to the company.

Additionally, YouTube announced that it will be opening up the ability for creators to sell paid memberships to their channels. Open to anyone with at least 100,000 subscribers, Channel Memberships lets subscribers pay $4.99 a month for extra perks.

The perks themselves are up to the creator, but could include custom emoji and badges, special access to live streams and videos, or shouts in a video. Like with Merchandising, YouTube has been testing the feature out for some time with a small group (the feature was previously known as Sponsorships) but will open more widely “in the coming months.”

Finally, YouTube also revealed a new feature called “Premieres,” which will let YouTubers build up hype for pre-recorded videos in the same way many do for live streams. With Premieres, YouTubers can opt to schedule a pre-recorded video in much the same way a live stream is scheduled.

Scheduling a premiere will create a landing page viewers can be directed to ahead of time; they can join in to watch the video simultaneously at the scheduled time. And, like a live stream, everyone can participate in a real-time chat during the video.

For creators, this also has the advantage of opening up additional revenue opportunities, like Super Chat, that were previously only available to live streams. 

For YouTube, these updates send an important message: that the company cares about making sure users can make money off their channels. However, the new features will be little consolation to smaller creators who’ve been frustrated with changes the company has made to its advertising policies.

Earlier this year, YouTube made a change that prevents advertising on channels with fewer than 1,000 subscribers. 

For its bigger stars, features like premieres and merchandising and channel memberships could be a major windfall and, importantly for YouTube, give them a good reason to stick around. The company’s announcement comes just one day after Instagram revealed IGTV, its dedicated service for YouTube-like video channels.

Right now, IGTV doesn’t offer influencers many opportunities to make money for their efforts. That will likely change in the future, as Instagram has said it wants to help creators monetize.

For YouTube, these new features send a pretty clear message to its biggest stars: We’re still the best way to actually make money.

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How to download Instagram’s new IGTV app for iOS and Android right now

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Instagram’s YouTube competitor is finally here.

The company has officially launched IGTV,  a new way for Instagram users to create YouTube-like channels that host longer videos within Instagram.

But even though IGTV channels will exist within the main Instagram app we all know and love, the company has also created dedicated apps for iOS and Android to host the new, longer videos. Unlike YouTube, all the videos are vertical and videos in the IGTV app will start playing as soon as you launch it.

Both apps are available for download now in the App Store and Google Play

Image: instagram

If you want to check out IGTV, but don’t want to download a separate app, IGTV videos will be viewable in the most recent version of the main Instagram app, though that update may take some time to roll out to everyone. 

Though IGTV is open to everyone now, a handful of influential users, like Selena Gomez, Kim Kardashian, and Kevin Hart, were early partners and have already started creating videos for their IGTV channels. But, now that the the apps have officially launched, the amount of content available should ramp up pretty quickly.

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Instagram challenges YouTube with IGTV, a new app for creators

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom speaks at a press event in SF.
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom speaks at a press event in SF.

Image: karissa bell/mashable

Instagram is getting serious about challenging YouTube.

Today, the company announced IGTV, Instagram’s new initiative that lets users create standalone video channels for longform video.

IGTV is launching now in the Instagram app and will also be available as a standalone app for iOS and Android “in the coming days.”

Unlike YouTube, IGTV is just for full-screen, vertical videos. But like YouTube, the service is open to anyone who wants to make a dedicated channel. users can follow channels and interact with video creators via comments.

“This is really an evolution of our mission from day one,” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said at a press event in San Francisco.

“Long form vertical video from the creators you love. It’s mobil first, it’s simple.”

IGTV is Instagram’s most significant new feature to date.

For the Facebook-owned service, it’s increasingly important to chip away at YouTube’s dominance in video. 

Like YouTube, Instagram also has a large community of influential users with large followings. But right now, the only way for those users to post extended videos is to go live, but live videos don’t work for every occasion and, most importantly for Instagram, don’t contain ads.

Launching a dedicated space for longer form video solves both these problems as creators can share longer, more produced videos on Instagram, which can then monetize them.

IGTV won’t have ads in the beginning, Systrom said, but said it likely would in the future. He also noted creators are able to link out from IGTV channels, which could help them start monetizing their channels right away, via brand partnerships.

On a more existential level, it also could help lure some of Instagram’s most sought-after users to spend more time in Instagram and less time n YouTube. Although Instagram remains popular, YouTube is now the most popular social network among U.S. teens, according to a recent study from the Pew Research Center.

That’s a worrying trend for Facebook, which has seen its core app decline in popularity with teens over the last few years. Which may help explain why Instagram’s IGTV and Facebook’s new game show-like live videos are suddenly so attractive.

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Instagram hits 1 billion monthly users, up from 800M in September

Instagram’s meteoric rise continues, dwarfing the stagnant growth rates of Snapchat and Facebook. Today Instagram announced that it has reached 1 billion monthly active users, after reaching 800 million in September 2017 with 500 million daily users.

That massive audience could be a powerful draw for IGTV, the longer-form video hub its launching for creators today. While IGTV monetization options are expected in the future, content makers may flock to it early just to get exposure and build their fan base.

While Snapchat’s daily user count grew just 2.13 percent in Q1 2018 to 191 million, and Facebook’s monthly count grew 3.14 percent to reach 2.196 billion, Instagram is growing closer to 5 percent per quarter.

Hitting the 1 billion user milestone could put more pressure on Instagram to carry its weight in the Facebook family and bring home more cash. Facebook doesn’t break out Instagram’s revenue and has never given any guidance about it. But eMarketer estimates that Instagram will generate $5.48 billion in US ad revenue in 2018, up 70 percent from last year. It reports that Instagram makes up 28.2 pecent of Facebook’s mobile ad revenue.

The Instagram brand increasingly looks like Facebook’s life raft. Sentiment towards Facebook, especially amongst teens, has been in decline, and its constantly rocked by privacy scandals. But many users don’t even realize Facebook owns Instagram, and still love the photo sharing app. With the 1 billion user badge, businesses and content creators may take the photo and video app even more seriously. Selling windows into your friends’ worlds is a lucrative business.