YouTube has announced several new features that expand the monetisation option for mid-level content creators on the video platform. A key new addition is a paid subscription feature that will allow content creators to offer exclusive content behind a $4.99 monthly paywall. Also new is the ability to pre-record videos for live streams.

Paid subscriptions

The monthly channel subscription is an expansion of the program previously known as ‘YouTube Sponsorships’ which was only available to select Youtube channels. Now rebranded as Channel Memberships, creators can name their fan clubs and charge $4.99 for membership. There are some caveats though — creators will need to have 100,000 subscribers or more, be over 18 years and be members of the YouTube Partner Program. Paying subscribers will gain access to members-only posts in the Community tab where creators will share custom perks from time to time, like access to an exclusive live streams, additional videos, shout-outs, news of upcoming events, early access to ticket sales and other things.

Pre-recorded content on Live

The new souped-up live broadcast section called ‘Premieres’ will allow Youtube creators to leverage some of the advantages of going live while still broadcasting pre-recorded content. Premiers will include a lot of the staples of live broadcasts like Super Chat, where users pay donations to have their comment highlighted and linger on a live chat. By allowing the broadcast of pre-recorded videos on live stream, Youtube intends to see creators focus on things like answering live chat questions while the pre-recorded video is playing. Premieres can be used to promote upcoming videos from creators as well as things like new movie trailers from studios, trailers from video games, or even music videos. Premieres is set to roll out over the next two weeks and will first come to select YouTubers who were beta test partners.

Selling merchandise

In addition to paid memberships, Youtube is opening up another monetisation avenue for creators on the platform, merchandising. In a tab below any video itself, creators can now offer merchandise like t-shirts, hats, phone cases or any one of over 20 different merchandise items. Youtube said it is partnering with merchandising company Teespring to help enable this. Teespring will apparently retain a cut of the merchandise, which is a flat fee that varies per item. But the creator can mark up the item to whatever price they want, then keep the remaining profits. And if that wasn’t enough, YouTube has also negotiated a deal with Teespring where it receives a commission on those sales — the majority of which the company claims will be returned to the creator. This is effectively a carrot being dangled by Youtube to encourage creators to sell on the platform itself in return for more revenue.

Going after Patreon

Over the last few years, mid-sized creators on Youtube have turned to Patreon as a means of generating additional revenue by offering extra or early access content to paying subscribers. Youtube now wants a piece of that action. One major advantage Youtube has over Patreon is that potential subscribers can be engaged within Youtube rather than being redirected to another site. A video content creator who already has an audience on Youtube could monetise some of them by just redirecting them to the paywalled group where he/she could offer additional paid-only or early access content. This significantly lowers the friction for a donor/patron as well as they don’t have to sign up for and follow a separate website.