Facebook is giving videos on its social network more ways to make money, pulling inspiration from other platforms to let you throw cash at your favorite video creators in the form of subscriptions or tokenized "stars" that pay them a penny. It's also going to start taking a cut of the money that superfans send to creators in paid subscriptions.
Facebook announced the new developments ahead of VidCon, the world's biggest conference for online video creators. VidCon runs Wednesday through Saturday in Anaheim, California.
The approach follows a proven Facebook strategy of borrowing features and tools that smaller social networks have rolled out to popular appeal. In the last three years, Facebook made big investments in video as a central part of its service, aiming to eat some of YouTube's lunch and take a bite of the television ad dollars migrating to digital video. But some of its efforts, like broadcasting original scripted series, have failed to break through to mass audiences.
Facebook didn't provide any hard numbers about how many people are making money on its platform with any of its early-stage money-making tools like ads and subscriptions. Generally, tens of thousands of pages are using ad breaks in videos to make money, the company said. The number of pages earning $10,000 a year with ad breaks has grown since Facebook began testing them about a year ago, but the company wouldn't provide specifics.
On Tuesday, Facebook also said that a slice of money from any subscribers who sign up after this year will be diverted to Facebook. Early pages that tested subscriptions, thus far, didn't need to share any revenue except the 30% bit that Apple and Google take of all media subscriptions that happen as in-app purchases in Facebook's mobile app. But starting with any subscribers who sign up beginning Jan. 1, Facebook will take 30% of revenue from desktop subscribers. It'll take 15% of revenue paid by mobile subscribers but only starting in the second year of a subscription.
The social giant said its ad-breaks feature would be introducing ways for creators to specify when a midroll commercial cuts into their video. Brand Collabs Manager, an interface that helps online video creators connect with sponsorships, will be enhanced with more analytics.
Facebook's subscriptions option, which lets fans pay creators on a monthly basis, will be expanding to let creators offer supporter-only groups as a benefit to subscribing, so superfans and creators can interact in a more intimate forum.
The company is also testing Stars, little stickerlike icons mostly for gaming-video fans that pay a creator a penny whenever you send one his or her way. Similar to the Bits Emotes on Twitch, viewers can send Stars while watching live gaming streams.