Culture is future » Financing and economic models


Contribution: "YouTube, which compensation for authors?" by Chloé Saulas

Some amateurs make videos specifically for the video sharing platform YouTube. Given the phenomenon, it set up an advertising-based compensation with which amateurs are getting professional: they are becoming “YouTubers”.

YouTube and its professional YouTubers

It is in one of its studies that the French High Authority of Diffusion on the Art Works and Protection of Rights on the Internet (Hadopi) selected 3300 videos in order to observe the evolution of the number of views and revealed that 22,6% of videos posted on YouTube are amateur creations. Amateurs make videos with various themes and formats such as sketches, movie critics, lifestyle tutorials or video games tests. They are commonly called “YouTubers” because they are remunerated by YouTube.

An economic model specific to YouTube?

YouTube’s economic model is based on advertising. The Internet users who post on the platform and gather an interesting number of views for their videos are proposed by YouTube to advertisers. YouTube presents these creative Internet users on the website through statistical studies, charts and tables recounting their activity on their channels. Advertisers then can make their choice. The YouTube system is based on redistribution: companies invest capital on the platform, which then transfers a part of it to YouTubers.

This is a number of views-based remuneration. When a video exceeds 1000 views, the person who posted it can claim compensation. The greater the number of views, the greater the amount.

The remuneration system goes on since the video maker, having reached the 1000 views level, decides to accept ads on his channel. On its website, YouTube provides for an area where video makers can get information on the remuneration system and can subscribe to have access to it. YouTube makes sure then that they fulfill the conditions, the platform’s rules and the ethics of its community. In this way, no offensive content can be subsidized. Then collaboration can begin. As he has become a “YouTuber”, the user gets a Google Adsense bank account on which the money earned is transferred.

The French YouTuber Le Joueur du Grenier, a video maker presenting some old video games to his followers is a good example. His videos account for almost 300 million views. According to the stats available on, he receives between 1600€ and 25 000€ a month. This large range is explained by the fact that the amount depends on the number of video he produces each month, and their success with the viewers and with the advertisers.

This economic system allowed YouTube to get an overall revenue of 3,5 billion dollars in 2014.

Has YouTuber tuned into a real job?

Today, both in France and abroad, some YouTubers make a living out of their videos. Beyond a certain number of subscribers and views, the video maker can receive a fairly high remuneration to do it as a job. He still controls the content he posts on the platform. If he wants to remove it, he must inform YouTube or delete his account. However, his commitment with the platform requires that he does not commercialize his YouTube channel on other websites, as well as he cannot add other ads or sponsors to his videos.

If it is difficult to define exactly how many people make a living out of the platform, YouTube admitted in 2012 that more than a million YouTubers – or at least a million YouTube channels – had accepted to allow advertising before their videos and were remunerated for their contents.

Chloé Saulas, Master 1 Publics de la culture et communication, Université d'Avignon

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