YouTube has claimed its Partner Program has paid out more than any other creator monetisation program, with over US$70 billion flowing to creators, artists and media companies in the last three years.
More than three million channels are part of YouTube’s Partner Program (YPP), which launched in 2007 but expanded in 2023 to include Shorts and new ad revenue sharing, CEO Neal Mohan wrote in his 2024 letter to members. (Shorts is averaging over 70 billion daily views, and the number of channels uploading Shorts has grown 50% year-on-year).
And in the last three years, the YPP has paid out over US$70 billion (AU$107 billion) to creators, artists and media companies, which it claims is more than any other creator monetisation platform.
Forbes’ Top Creators list for 2023 had YouTube titan MrBeast in its top spot, earning a reported US$82 million off his 312 million followers. Olajide Olatunji and Jake Paul also got their start on YouTube, while nine-year-old Nastya made about US$28 million in 2022 for her channel, which chronicles her life.
While the YPP has been a success for the platform, this year, Mohan says YouTube will focus on its next frontier: the living room and subscriptions. According to a recent report on streaming in the US, YouTube was the leader in streaming watchtime for the past 11 months. And as a result, creators are thinking about how to optimise their content for the living room.
“In the last three years, the number of top creators that received the majority of their watchtime on the big screen increased more than 400%,” Mohan says. “Like creators Ms Rachel and SypherPK, whose living room watchtime doubled in the second half of last year. And it might not be what you’d expect, but people like watching Shorts on their TVs.”
Subscriptions are also key. So far, its YouTube TV feature has more than 8 million subscribers and its Music and Premium feature surpassed 100 million users (Spotify has about 226 million premium subscribers, according to Demand and Sage) .
Sports also falls under that umbrella, with YouTube wrapping its first season of its NFL Sunday Ticket, which is a subscription that gives users access to every Sunday game, including local, national and out-of-market games and 100+ live channels.
Mohan says YouTube will continue to invest in new ways for creators to earn cash while helping viewers shop for products, and viewers can still support their creators via channel memberships. For example, Emily D. Baker, behind Emily’s YouTube, saw her membership earnings grow more than 50% last year, and it’s where the majority of her revenue comes from.
Outside of that, AI was a “big bet” for YouTube, with the platform introducing AI-generated backgrounds for YouTube Shorts and a Music AI Incubator, and announcing plans to roll out more AI-powered features this year.
Other creator funds
In 2021, Meta announced it would invest US$1 billion in creators via its bonuses program. Under the bonuses program, multiple creators said they received up to $35,000 in a month, depending on the popularity of their Reels. The program was paused in March last year, and Meta hasn’t yet introduced a new payments feature for its creators.
In December last year, TikTok closed its US$1 billion Creator Fund, which launched in 2020, and invited creators to join its Creativity Program instead. The catch with the Creativity Program is that creators must create viral videos that are longer than a minute, so, in effect, creators making videos under that would no longer receive payments from TikTok.
Creators had previously told media outlets that they were paid just a few hundred dollars – even with significant followings – under the old Creator Fund, but expressed they were making much more via the Creativity Program.