YouTube has long been two different sites operating under the same roof. On one side is the big budget traditional media, and the other is the wealth of independent creators that churn out their own content. YouTube has decided to draw focus back to the more independent side by reigniting its drive to fund its creators directly.
YouTube’s creators have been getting more tools in recent years, from a promised creator app and tip jar to YouTube’s brick and mortar studios “Spaces.” The network even had a grant system a few years ago that invested $100 million in creators, a third of which were existing YouTube creators.
According to the YouTube blog:
Now, we feel the time is right to make another important investment in our creators. That’s why we’ve decided to fund new content from some of our top creators, helping them not only fulfill their creative ambitions but also deliver new material to their millions of fans on YouTube.
This funding drive may be a tacit admission that YouTube creators can’t make quite enough to sustain their work through the existing ad revenue sharing model, which only gives creators about 45 percent of the revenue. By investing directly, YouTube is redistributing some of its profits back into the service.
The other possible motivation for this investment may be to keep the YouTube stars on the network. Earlier this year, there were rumors that Yahoo was interested in poaching YouTube creators for its screen service, and other sites are striking deals with popular creators to leverage their star power.
In addition to redistributing profits back to its creators, investing in content deals directly could help YouTube hold onto its best talent. The investments are in the range of “single-digit millions” for a 10-part series, an anonymous source told Recode. If that’s the kind of money the company is willing to spend on its content creators, it could be more than enough to keep talented creators from straying too far.