All posts in “Youtube”

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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Instagram’s “IGTV” video hub for creators launches tomorrow

TechCrunch has learned that the Instagram longer-form video hub that’s launching tomorrow is called IGTV and it will be part of the Explore tab, according to multiple sources. Instagram has spent the week meeting with online content creators to encourage them to prepare videos closer to 10-minute YouTube vlogs than the 1-minute maximum videos the app allows today.

Instagram is focusing its efforts around web celebrities that made their name on mobile rather than more traditional, old-school publishers and TV studios that might come off too polished and processed. The idea is to let these creators, who have a knack for this style of content and who already have sizeable Instagram audiences, set the norms for what IGTV is about.

Instagram declined to comment on the name IGTV and the video hub’s home in app’s Explore tab. We’ll get more information at the feature’s launch event in San Francisco tomorrow at 9am Pacific.

Following the WSJ’s initial report that Instagram was working on allowing longer videos, TechCrunch learned much more from sources about the company’s plan to build an aggregated destination for watching this content akin to Snapchat Discover. The videos will be full-screen, vertically oriented, and can have a resolution up to 4K. Users will be greeted with collection of Popular recent videos, and the option to Continue Watching clips they didn’t finish.

The videos aren’t meant to compete with Netflix Originals or HBO-quality content. Instead, they’ll be the kind of things you might see on YouTube rather than the short, off-the-cuff social media clips Instagram has hosted to date. Videos will offer a link-out option so creators can drive traffic to their other social presences, websites, or ecommerce stores. Instagram is planning to offer direct monetization, potentially including advertising revenue shares, but hasn’t finalized how that will work.

We reported that the tentative launch date for the feature was June 20th. A week later, Instagram sent out press invites for an event on June 20th our sources confirm is for IGTV.

Based on its historic growth trajectory that has seen Instagram adding 100 million users every four months, and its announcement of 800 million in September 2017, it’s quite possible that Instagram will announce it’s hit 1 billion monthly users tomorrow. That could legitimize IGTV as a place creators want to be for exposure, not just monetization.

IGTV could create a new behavior pattern for users who are bored of their friends’ content, or looking for something to watch in between Direct messages. If successful, Instagram might even consider breaking out IGTV into its own mobile app, or building it an app for smart TVs

The launch is important for Facebook because it lacks a popular video destination since its Facebook Watch hub was somewhat of a flop. Facebook today said it would expand Watch to more creators, while also offering new interactive video tools to let them make their own HQ trivia-style game shows. Facebook also launched its Brand Collabs Manager that helps businesses find creators to sponsor. That could help IGTV stars earn money through product placement or sponsored content.

Until now, video consumption in the Facebook family of apps has been largely serendipitous, with users stumbling across clips in their News Feed. IGTV will let it more directly compete with YouTube, where people purposefully come to watch specific videos from their favorite creators. But YouTube was still built in the web era with a focus on horizontal video that’s awkward to watch on iPhones or Androids.

With traditional television viewership slipping, Facebook’s size and advertiser connections could let it muscle into the lucrative space. But rather than try to port old-school TV shows to phones, IGTV could let creators invent a new vision for television on mobile.

Tech’s biggest CEOs speak out against separating families at the border

Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, and others condemn the Trump administration's immigration policy.
Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, and others condemn the Trump administration’s immigration policy.

Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Executives at Apple, Microsoft, YouTube, Uber, and more tech companies are joining other Americans with a conscience in speaking out against the Trump administration’s practice of separating children from their families at the border. 

“It’s heartbreaking to see the images and hear the sounds of the kids,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told the Irish Times. “Kids are the most vulnerable people in any society. I think that what’s happening is inhumane, it needs to stop.”

Over a six-week period ending in May, the United States government separated over 2,000 children from their families as they attempted to cross the border and placed the children and parents in separate facilities. Increased media coverage of the practice, featuring new images of immigrants being kept in cages and ProPublica’s gobsmacking audio of children wailing, has led to national outrage in recent days. The public has responded to the revelations with an outpouring of donations to immigrant advocacy organizations and calls for change.

The tech industry isn’t staying silent. In addition to Apple’s Cook, CEOs Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Dara Khosrowshahi‏ (Uber), Susan Wojcicki (YouTube), and others have taken to social media to speak out. Many have also pledged donations, with Zuckerberg leading a fundraising effort that has so far raised over $25,000.

Other tech industry leaders that have called for change include representatives from Airbnb, Box, eBay, Cisco, and others. 

Microsoft also issued a statement saying that it is “dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border.” That comes after reports of employee anger over Microsoft’s cloud computing deal with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). Microsoft managed to overcome its dismay long enough to reassure the public that “Microsoft is not working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or U.S. Customs and Border Protection on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border.”

Tesla’s Elon Musk also expressed his support with a puzzling series of tweets.

The tech industry has pushed back on Trump policy before, specifically on immigration issues around Dreamers and the Muslim ban. But despite criticism from some of the most important leaders in the country, including multiple first ladies, Trump and his flunkies continue to falsely state that the president’s hands are tied and blame Democrats for the horrific practice.

Meanwhile, amidst outrage from CEOs and citizens alike, those kids are still in cages. Here’s how to help.

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Facebook fires shots at YouTube with new poll and gaming creator tools

Move over, Instagram vs. Snapchat. The fight is on between Facebook and YouTube.

Facebook announced Tuesday that it’s bringing new poll and game features to Live and on demand video for Facebook creators. With this new emphasis on interactivity, and with game tools that look *a lot* like HQ, the gamification of video seems to be Facebook’s latest play in the battle for teen eyeballs, a competition it has been steadily losing in recent years to YouTube.

Facebook launched its Facebook for Creators website and app in November 2017. Today’s tools mark an expansion of its offerings for fledgling Facebook *Stars.*

Facebook will make the new tools available to select creators and publishers. Polling will come to both Live and on demand video (which is just regular Facebook video). It will include a few question formats, like “either/or” or “two truths and a lie.” 

A “gameplay” tool that enables the creation of, say, a live trivia show with a cash prize, will only be available on Live. And at least three new game shows enabled by the gameplay tool are coming to Facebook Watch in the coming weeks.

When HQ launched in 2017, a lot of people lauded the app as the “future of entertainment.” The HQ-mania has died down (as Mashable predicted). But with a Watch trivia show launching called “Confetti by INSIDER,” as well as gaming capabilities debuting more broadly for Watch creators, Facebook seems to believe the trend has legs.

The game and poll features debuted along with new business tools, too. Facebook unveiled profile settings that allow creators to put their video content front and center, and more ways to monetize and grow their presence on Facebook. That includes a “Brands Collabs Manager” (yes, “collabs”), which will help brands discover Facebook creators in order to establish “partnerships” with them. It will roll out ad breaks and paid fan subscriptions more widely. It also announced the creation of a program it’s calling the Facebook for Creators Launchpad. It’s an application only creator incubator, which sounds a lot like YouTube’s ‘NextUp’ and Snap’s ‘Yellow.’ 

Don't call it a "collaboration."

Don’t call it a “collaboration.”

Image: Facebook

YouTubers can also create polls in videos, using the cards tool. But typically, they don’t look as cute as Facebook’s new offerings. (Cuteness: also v. important to the teens.)

Facebook may be playing catchup to YouTube in the video creator department, but polls and the ability to launch a fully-fledged game show make video production on Facebook more dynamic. That, along with the business tools, could give Facebook an edge when creators are deciding whether to invest in and grow communities there versus on YouTube. And that’s a consumer choice Facebook is very much invested in winning.

According to a 2018 Pew study, Facebook is losing shares of the teen market faster than ever. Today, 51 percent of teenagers say they use Facebook, down from 71 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, YouTube is the most popular platform among 13 to 17 year olds: 85 percent of teenagers say they use YouTube, and 32 percent say it’s the platform they use the most often.

Facebook is losing teens' love to YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Facebook is losing teens’ love to YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Image: pew research

With teens proving that they love the personalized, quirky interactivity of YouTubers, it’s no surprise that Facebook is going after that share of the market. Copycatting Snapchat worked to make Instagram the platform of choice for stories and direct messages. So perhaps a shift to more produced — but still personal — video on Facebook can help Facebook capture the other half of the teenage content equation. 

Maybe YouTube creator-like video will be more insulated from Facebook’s mom demographic, too, since adults have less interest (and plainly, don’t really get) creator fandom. That could go a long way to bringing teens back to Facebook. 

Still, we expect Facebook will have to do a lot more to bring the Cool Teens back into the fold.

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