Google hopes to goose the quality of independent content on YouTube with a program that will award $5 million in grants to participants.
YouTube is inviting select members of its three-year-old YouTube Partner program to apply for the awards. Applicants must detail their creative plans and explain the ways they will market the content after its production. The grants, ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, will be awarded based on the track record of creators in attracting video views, subscribers and audience engagement. YouTube will also assess proposals for their commercial viability.
"Our goal is to catalyze the creation of original content and new programming ideas," said George Strompolos, partner development manager at YouTube.
YouTube boasts over 10,000 content creators in its Partner program, which provides ad-revenue sharing. The grants are intended to even the playing field for independent creators that do not have the big-money backing of Hollywood studios. It is also a way for YouTube to give creators incentives to continue producing content on its platform.
The grants come with few strings, Strompolos said. One is that the videos produced be distributed on YouTube, although creators are allowed to also distribute them through other channels.
"It's a very open partnership," he said. "We don't take ownership of the content and we're working non-exclusively."
Strompolos said the program isn't an admission that the ad split isn't enough for content producers. YouTube shares "millions" in ad revenue with partners, some of whom are now making "seven-figure salaries," he said, adding: "People are making careers off this."