Upcoming YouTube Changes Could Hurt Your Favourite Channels
Very quietly, YouTube is making some behind-the-scenes changes with their monetization changes for channels affiliated with networks. Currently, the big advantage of being a YouTuber signed with a multi-channel network (MCN) is that you can upload your videos and monetize it instantly without having to go through any checks, or audits as they’re known to YouTubers, for unauthorized copyrighted content while getting more revenue through network sold ads. The trade-off is that those channels give up a portion of their add revenue to the network for that benefit.
YouTube has quietly announced that they are changing the current monetization rules for MCNs come January. Now, MCNs have to add a designation to channels to determine whether they will get the instant monetization or whether they’ll have to go through the auditing process just like every other unaffiliated channel on YouTube.
The way this breaks down is that channels are currently set up as what YouTube are now going to call “managed” channels. These are the ones that are going to keep the instant monitization benefits that they are used to from being partnered with MCNs. Otherwise, a channel will be classified as an “affiliate.” These will basically end up being treated as a bog standard YouTube channel but one that has to share a cut of revenue with the MCN.
The choice of whether a channel with an MCN is a managed or an affiliate channel is up to the network itself and there appears to be no limit to the number of channels that can be designated as a managed channel. However, a number of YouTubers with smaller channels are reporting that when YouTube enacts this change, they will be designated as affiliate channels with no changes made to their network contracts as a result.
A Twitter rant also indicates that the Polaris network, which is probably the second biggest gaming MCN next to Machinima, will designate Angry Joe, a popular YouTuber with over 1.15 million subscribers, an affiliate channel rather than giving him full managed channel status.
Since it’s readily apparent what the effect of being downgraded from managed (which is effectively the current status of all channels that are part of an MCN) to affiliate will be to a channel, we haven’t looked at this change from a multi-channel network’s perspective.
When the switch to managed and affiliate channels in January, YouTube will be putting more pressure on the MCN to make sure that the managed channels are behaving themselves with regards to using copyrighted material. Apparently, a copyright strike against a managed channel will also have an impact on the MCN. Like the channel, repeated violations will have an escalating impact on the MCN that may result in the network itself being banned from YouTube.
That’s why you’re going to hear about many of your favourite channels getting busted down to affiliate status. Managed channels will be able to make money faster and without having to jump through hoops but there’s a risk for the MCN the channel is signed to. The MCN suffers no consequences if the affiliate channel runs afoul of the copyright checks and monetization audits.
As a result of this change, it becomes far more advantageous for a multi-channel network to make a channel an affiliate as they assume less risk while still getting a cut of a channel’s revenue. For the affiliate channels, it’s like being a normal YouTube channel but losing a cut of the revenue to the MCN while hoping they would stick up for you in a copyright dispute. For managed channels, it’s business as usual.
With this change, YouTube is making it easier for affiliate channels to sever ties with their MCN. There will be an easy to find link that initiates the break-up process though it doesn’t automatically sever ties as both the channel and the network have to complete a workflow to officially go their separate ways. There is some concern that this will lead to wars between MCNs as channels quickly jump from MCN to MCN looking for higher ad rate revenues.
So how can this affect your favourite channels? Well, if they’re going to be managed channels, chances are that it won’t there won’t be any effect on them. If they’re going to be affiliates, though, there may be an issue with the content creators running scared of any potential copyright claim. YouTube’s dispute system for copyright claims is often regarded as being guilty until being proven innocent and often not providing an opportunity to do that. They’ll also have to wait for the content audit before monetization activates on a video. It’s supposed to take hours but who knows if the system will work that quickly all the time.
YouTuber Ohmwrecker, who is with Polaris and soon to be an affiliate, was told by his MCN that the way around issues with audits and delays in monetization is to upload a video and leave it unlisted until the audit is complete. Then they can make it public and profit immediately. Of course, if you’re subject to embargo, you can be losing views and money waiting for monetization to come through.
Your favourite big channels will continue on with business as usual. If you’re a fan of a smaller channel, who knows what could happen to their content? I’m fairly certain that things won’t remain the same on those channels. It’ll be a shame that quality content could be censored by a broken copyright system. Maybe if YouTube fixed that, people wouldn’t really need the MCNs in the first place.