An update to the YouTube terms of service in the US has potentially altered the way the platform will show ads on content uploaded from channels without monetization enabled or “partner status” on the YouTube Partner Program.

To become a partner on YouTube, you need to have more than 1,000 subscribers, achieve 4,000 hours of “valid” public watch hours in the past 12 months, and a linked AdSense account. This program allows you to place ads on your own content, which in turn allows you to earn money for uploaded content.

Unless you are eligible, no ads will be shown on your video content. However, this change to the YouTube terms of service means that the Alphabet-owned streaming platform will now be able to place ads before, during or after any unmonetized content, without giving the creator a share of the revenue.

Right to Monetize 

You grant to YouTube the right to monetize your Content on the Service (and such monetization may include displaying ads on or within Content or charging users a fee for access). This Agreement does not entitle you to any payments. Starting November 18, 2020, any payments you may be entitled to receive from YouTube under any other agreement between you and YouTube (including for example payments ​under the YouTube Partner Program, Channel memberships or Super Chat) will be treated as royalties.  If required by law, Google will withhold taxes from such payments.

That really does stink from the very outset, especially as Alphabet recorded $5 billion in ad revenue in Q3 of 2020 alone. This will undoubtedly be a body blow to smaller channels that make up a vast portion of the entire YouTube platform. Another notable is that according to reports, almost 90% of content uploaded to YouTube never surpasses the 1,000 view barrier. Clearly, YouTube is looking for a way to monetize all of this added content.

These updated terms also hint that you may start seeing ads on private and unlisted videos hosting on the platform — even if that YouTube channel lacks monetization. However, channels that have been removed from its partner program for content violations will not be shown ads — that is potentially a loophole for disgruntled creators.

As it stands, the ToS changes will only affect the US for now. Meaning that if you YouTube channel is lacking monetization in other regions, you won’t see changes until mid-2021. We can’t help but feel this might be a bit of exploitation on YouTube’s part, especially as channels and, therefore, creators won’t get any kickbacks for said ads.

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