YouTube, One-Upping TikTok, to Share Ad Money With Shorts Creators

The streaming service wants people posting popular clips on Shorts to make money off them, a shot over the bow of TikTok.

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.
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Joan E. Solsman
3 min read
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YouTube is shaking up its Partnership Program that lets people earn money from their videos, expanding it to share revenue and other money-making features with uploaders of popular clips on Shorts -- its quick, vertical, looping videos that compete with TikTok.

"This is the first time real revenue sharing is being offered for short-form video on any platform at scale," Neal Mohan, YouTube's chief product officer, said Tuesday. YouTube made the announcement at its Made by YouTube event, a presentation catering to video creators. The news was earlier reported by The New York Times

Starting early next year, people who hit 10 million Shorts views and have 1,000 subscribers over 90 days can apply for partnership, which will unlock the ability to earn a 45% share of advertising revenue as well as other money-making feature on YouTube, such as channel memberships. (Traditional YouTube channels need 1,000 subscribers and must have racked up 4,000 public watch hours of their videos in the last 12 months to be eligible for partnership.)

The 45% share of Shorts ad revenue compares with a 55% payout for the ads that play alongside traditional, horizontal, "long-form" videos. The reason, Mohan said, is partly because Shorts advertising, which runs between clips, is different from advertising attached to specific YouTube videos. 

Each month, YouTube will pool the money from all its Shorts ads. One portion will be dedicated to paying music licenses. Another will be allocated to creators, who get 45% of that portion. Each creator will be paid proportionally based on their share of total Shorts views that month. 

Earlier this year, TikTok said it was exploring its first ad revenue-sharing program. The program would pay 50% of the money generated from some advertising to top creators, public figures and other publishers whose posts run next to those ads. To qualify for the program, a TikTok account would need a minimum of 100,000 followers initially, the company said at the time. TikTok declined to comment. 

Google-owned YouTube, which has 2 billion monthly users, is the world's biggest source of online video. (That figure, however, that hasn't been updated in more than three years.) With Shorts, Google's massive video site is trying to compete with the sensation around TikTok, the social video app owned by Chinese company ByteDance. YouTube launched Shorts two years ago, starting in India and then widening it to the US and other countries. 

Also Tuesday, Mohan said that YouTube would add a new tier to its YouTube Partner Program designed to unlock monetization for creators earlier in their careers online. The new level will have lower requirements to access fan-funded products like memberships and small transactions like Super Thanks, Super Chat and Super Stickers, which let fans pay for special digital items or privileges. 

The company plans to provide more details about this new partnership tier, called YPP Fan Funding, next year. 

The YouTube Partner Program generally reserves advertising revenue share to more established creators, since YouTube needs to pitch itself to advertisers, marketers and brands on being a "brand safe" place to run their ads