As part of the launch of Youtube Red, the company's new porny-sounding ad-free pay TV service, top creators are being told that they must allow their work into the paywalled/ad free zone, or be excluded from Youtube altogether. Noncommercial Youtube creators get a choice (for now). Apparently, the punishment for making Youtube into a success is losing the right to choose how to make money off your stuff.
Many creators have (often foolish) deals in place that make it impossible for them to take Youtube's take-it-or-leave-it offer, and so they're leaving. All of ESPN's channels are now gone from Youtube altogether. Japanese game studios are also particularly hard hit, with gameplay videos from Attack on Titan, Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai 2, and BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma disappeared from Youtube altogether.
This kind of strong-arm shenanigans have become standard procedure from Youtube's new business ventures. Earlier this year, Youtube launched a streaming music competitor to Pandora and Spotify, and after it negotiated terms with the big four music labels, it told all the indie musicians that they'd have to take those terms without any further negotiation, or be excluded from Youtube altogether.
Youtube's view of its creators has evolved into something toxic and predatory. Far from an exchange of value (you get my creations for free to build your platform; I get your platform to help distribute my stuff), the company has become keenly attuned to ways to hold those creators to Facebook-ian ransom: "You need us more than we need you. You will take a new deal that limits your choices, or we will take away the platform we told you to rely on to build your audience."
It’s understandable why YouTube wanted to launch a subscription service after watching the success of Netflix and Spotify. Ad revenue per user is relatively small, and both YouTube and creators can earn more per user if they’re $9.99 a month paid subscribers. For many creators, the deal is a good thing. And YouTube deserves credit for not cutting better deals for big media companies than small independent creators.
Still, its argument that the deal is beneficial to most and that YouTube simply couldn’t fathom having any content missing from its subscription service doesn’t justify it forcing creators to sign the Red deal or have their videos removed. Certain creators might have other deals in place, intentions to monetize their videos differently, or qualms with the 55% payout that make them not want to sign on to Red. Penalizing them so harshly by removing their content from the top online video platform still seems like bullying.
YouTube Red Deal Forces ESPN To Pull Its Videos From YouTube [Sarah Perez and Josh Constine/Techcrunch]