(This story was first published on 21 May 2021. It has been republished from The Quint’s archives as the new policy comes into effect from 1 June 2021.)
Video streaming platform YouTube has communicated to all content creators through an e-mail that it has revised its monetisation policy that will allow the platform to place more ads on any content of its choice and not just on those channels that come under YPP (YouTube Partner Programme).
The new rules, applicable from June, has caused quite a stir among content creators after the platform announced that it won't share the revenue it makes from such advertisements with the creators on whose content the ads are hosted.
“You grant to YouTube the right to monetize your content on the service (and such monetization may include displaying ads on or within content or charging users a fee for access). This agreement does not entitle you to any payments (sic),” reads YouTube’s new terms of service in India.
The Quint spoke to content creators and industry experts to understand how this decision is likely to affect users and YouTubers across the country.
What Is YouTube Partner Programme?
YouTube Partner Programme allows popular content creators (with at least 1,000 subscribers) to monetise their videos and share the revenue that YouTube gains from advertising on their channel.
As the name suggests, it’s a partnership, in which the platform provides the space where users create the content that together sustains an audience, eventually leading to profit that is shared between the two agreed parties, i.e, YouTube and creators.
What Is the New Change?
Under its new terms of service, YouTube essentially reserves the right to place ads on any content of its choice.
“Before this, ads were placed by the platform only on videos by creators who were a part of the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) with a certain number of subscribers and views," said Kunal Kishore Sinha, Co-founder & COO, ClanConnect.
However, creators who are not a part of YPP will not earn revenues from the ads curated by YouTube on their videos. The new policy will come into effect starting 1 June 2021.
Why Is This Problematic?
Creators who qualify for YPP after reaching a certain reach and views receive a share of the revenue generated through the ads placed on their videos.
New creators, who do not yet qualify for the YPP as per the platform’s norms did not have ads on their videos until now. However, the new policy aims to disrupt this ecosystem.
Here are three major reasons of this move to be problematic:
- YouTube will display ads even if a content creator specifically does not want ads to be displayed on his channel.
- YouTube has clearly stated that it won't share any earnings with such creators.
- The platform states that it will charge users a fee for access to a channel if a creator is not a part of the YPP.
Ujjwal Chaurasia, aka Technogamerz, a YouTuber with more than 15 million subscribers believes that this move will affect both small and big content creators. "Smalltime content creators have a small audience base.If YouTube starts displaying ads on their videos, chances are that it can potentially drive their viewers away."
Ujjwal explained that this move is worrisome for famous creators and channels as well. "The whole advertising game will be affected. YouTube advertisements can now be viewed on any and every video viewed on the site. This will significantly affect big creators as ads on our channels will be decreased significantly, which means less revenue generation."
'Confusing and Flawed Policy'
The controversial move is a tactile reminder that creators merely rent digital space. They don’t own it.
Ankit Agarwal, founder of Do Your Thng – a tech platform that aims to disrupt the influencer marketing industry – said that the new policy will also directly affect users as YouTube “gains the right to charge users a fee to access any content”. Users may end up paying a fee to watch their favourite channels.
However, Pranav Panpalia, founder, OpraahFx told The Quint that more clarity on the new policy should be given by the company.
"I believe that YouTube is a very creator-friendly platform but several speculations are being made about how the new policy impacts users as well as creators. It would be better if the platform provides more clarity on this issue as this affects us widely," he said.
Another content creator, who runs a tech channel on YouTube, said on condition of anonymity that the company’s policies are flawed and confusing. “I haven't monetized my channel and that is because I don't want my viewers to watch ads. But I have no say now. Why does YouTube claim to be a free platform if it plans to generate revenue out of the videos that we don't authorise it to."
The Way Forward
Sinha explains that creators would need to educate themselves on these new policies and understand exactly how they will affect them. "Don't be discouraged or stop creating for YouTube since the opportunities to reach new audiences through this platform are immense," he said.
“For Indian creators, a large chunk of their revenue is generated from outside YouTube. Since the new policies do not affect the earnings from sponsored content in any way, creators can focus on creating impactful content in partnership with relevant brands.”Kunal Kishore Sinha, Co-founder & COO, ClanConnect
The Quint reached out to YouTube seeking clarification on the new monetization policy, the platform replied stating that the new terms will take effect on 1 June 2021 and only include the following updates:
- First, ads can appear on videos from channels, not in the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). Starting in June, the company will slowly begin rolling out ads on a limited number of brand-safe videos from channels that aren’t in YPP.
- Any revenue payments from YouTube will now be treated as royalties from a US tax perspective, and Google will withhold taxes from these payments if it is required by law.
Clarifying on the issue of charging users a fee to access the platform, YouTube said, “It is just a clause included for our YouTube premium paid service”.