YouTube Targets TikTok With Monetization For Creators' Short Videos

The Google-owned giant is putting the squeeze on rival video platform TikTok by launching revenue-sharing for YouTube Shorts.

YouTube has unveiled a new way for creators to monetize Shorts, a change aimed at making the short-form videos more lucrative for some of the biggest stars and aspiring talent on the internet.

The move is arguably YouTube’s biggest swing yet at TikTok, a rival video giant from China that is, as some say, eating the lunch of American social media companies—snapping up U.S.-based creators and audiences in the intensifying platform war.

Starting next year, eligible YouTube creators will be able to keep a more sizable portion of monthly ad revenue coming from Shorts, executives announced Tuesday at “Made on YouTube,” an event in Los Angeles that featured speakers including singer Jason Derulo, online personalities Colin and Samir, famed choreographer Kyle Hanagami and hair-stylist-turned-viral-entertainer Kris Collins. They will split that revenue with the music partners whose songs are used in the videos. (How much, exactly, creators will pocket is unclear: YouTube’s messaging has led some to believe posters will keep 45% of their ad revenue from Shorts, but as VidCon creator Hank Green astutely pointed out on Twitter, they will take home a slice of that dependent on overall views.)

“YouTube’s success has been built on long-form and live streaming,” the company’s chief product officer, Neal Mohan, told the audience, but “we want to support creators in all the ways they’re using YouTube to tell their stories, including the mobile-first generation of creators making YouTube Shorts.”

Similar to the TikTok Creator Fund, YouTube has been rewarding the creators behind its quick-hit videos through the YouTube Shorts Fund. But because the cash in these buckets is limited, payouts have become smaller as the platforms have grown in size. This new revenue-sharing for Shorts, through YouTube’s Partner Program, is intended to be a more permanent, scalable alternative. “Creator funds can't keep up with the incredible growth that we're seeing in short-form video,” Mohan said Tuesday, noting that most Shorts Fund recipients are expected to earn more money under the new model. Tara Walpert Levy, YouTube’s vice president of the Americas and global content, added that the revenue-sharing plan “ensures that as the platform and community grows, you will continue to grow with us.”