YouTube is paying its stars again, report says

This time, YouTube pays for praise.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
Expertise Streaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation online Credentials
  • Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Joan E. Solsman
2 min read
YouTube's Robert Kyncl giving a keynote address at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show.

YouTube's Robert Kyncl giving a keynote address at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show.

James Martin/CNET

Google's YouTube is paying its digital stars up to hundreds of thousands of dollars to vouch for new features it rolls out, Bloomberg reported Monday, citing unnamed sources familiar with the deals. 

In a statement, YouTube said it has "no new initiative in place." 

"We have always invested in our creators' success and will continue to do so to ensure they have a great experience and can find continued growth and opportunity on YouTube," a company representative said. 

Google's site is the undisputed king of free videos with 1.9 billion monthly users, but rival Facebook has been ratcheting up its video competition against YouTube. Facebook has been aggressive in promoting video to the top of your News Feed and has rolled out a central hub for TV-like programming called Watch, as it tries to vacuum up as much advertising money migrating off television as it can before YouTube does the same.

YouTube has been paying talent upfront sums, ranging from "tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars," to use and promote features like paid memberships and an enhanced chat, according to the Bloomberg report. 

There's plenty of precedent for the payments. YouTube has variously relied on payouts to big-name stars over the course of its history to keep them committed to posting on its platform or to entice them to experiment with new formats. In 2011, it spent $100 million to launch channels in an effort to make YouTube feel more like regular TV -- though many of the investments went to established media brands rather than ones that started out online. In 2015, it paid its native stars to make feature films and series to launch its subscription service. 

First published Aug. 13, 10:58 a.m. PT.
Update, 11:12 a.m: Adds YouTube comment. 

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