YouTube introduces paid subscriptions and merchandise selling in bid to help creators monetize the platform

  • YouTube channels can offer $4.99-a-month "channel memberships" that users can buy to access exclusive content.
  • YouTube partnered with custom merchandise company Teespring to let creators sell their own merchandise directly through the platform.
Susan Wojcicki, chief executive officer of YouTube Inc., introduces the company's new television subscription service at the YouTube Space LA venue in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Susan Wojcicki, chief executive officer of YouTube Inc., introduces the company's new television subscription service at the YouTube Space LA venue in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017.

Google-owned video-sharing service YouTube has announced new features to help creators make money on the platform, amid ongoing concerns surrounding advertising and monetization.

The firm said in a blog post Friday that it would let YouTube channels offer $4.99-a-month "channel memberships" that users can buy to access exclusive content. The premium subscription feature was previously available only to a select few creators, who could get "sponsored" by users.

YouTube has also partnered with custom merchandise company Teespring to let creators sell their own merchandise directly through the platform. Previously, channels would have to include a link to an external provider to ask subscribers to buy merchandise. YouTube said this feature would only be available to U.S.-based creators with more than 10,000 subscribers.

In addition, YouTube announced a new livestreaming feature called "premieres," which lets channels pre-record a video and upload it as a livestream. People watching the livestream can pay the creator to get their comment noticed through a feature that's already on the platform called "super chat."

The move comes amid concerns that YouTube channels are having their content "demonetized" — stripped of adverts — as stricter "advertiser-friendly" content rules make it harder for creators to host adverts on their videos. The company had come under pressure over how adverts were placed on extremist videos, and introduced the new rules after an advertiser backlash.

Restricted access to advertising revenue has led to some creators on the service trying to make money through subscription company Patreon, which lets viewers make a payment once a month. Users are typically rewarded with membership benefits dependent on the amount of money they pay to the channel.