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YouTube: How revenue can fall during the streaming boom

Feb 06, 2023

During the pandemic, YouTube traffic grew by 15% (New York Times reports). Moreover, video quality was lowered in order to reduce broadband load.

But the income of content creators did not increase. Why is that? Let's see if we can figure it out.


The main way to make money on the YouTube platform is through advertising.

This principle is called Advertising supported Video on Demand or AVOD. It is designed specifically to provide a large number of viewers around the world with free content.

It is possible to make money on advertising in this way, but this is the lowest form of profit. Therefore, it is not very wise to consider earnings from advertising on Youtube as the main source of income. Why?

      1.High entry threshold. AdSense is only available if you have 1000 or more subscribers and 4000 viewing hours. Not generally, but for the last year.

You will also have to join the affiliate program of the site and obey the rules. The rules apply not only to behavior and content, but also to monetization.

  1. Half of your income goes to YouTube.
  2. Poverty. From the outside, it may seem that some bloggers live chic and do almost nothing. Actually this is not true.

According to Fastcompany, 96.5% of bloggers do not even earn a living wage in the United States. If we imagine this platform is the only source of income, then it turns out that these people are below the poverty line.

  1. You don't have full control over your income.

Occasionally, the site may demonetize your videos without warning or change their advertising algorithm.


AdSense is not the most reliable way to make money. And there are several reasons for this.

One of them was revealed during the pandemic, when people were sitting at home and constantly consuming video content. It would seem that this is a great time for bloggers. But the fact is that during this period, the prices for advertising on the site became 50% lower.

Due to the pandemic and uncertainty, companies have started cutting their advertising budgets. So YouTubers did not earn more money despite the increased number of views.

Let's look at an example.

Three years ago, Hank Green and his brother John were already top bloggers and ran educational YouTube channels Crash Course and SciShow.

They had more than 60 million views per month, and 19 million subscribers. They made high-quality and interesting content.

During the pandemic, their profit from 1000 views fell by 30%.

For famous gamer Bodil40, CPM dropped by 30-50%.

In general, according to Uscreen, the drop in income for many reached 60%.

Laws and regulations

In addition, it is important to remember that even before the pandemic, it wasn't the easiest thing in the world. Between 2017 and 2019, the platform experimented with AdSense and demonetized many successful campaigns. In general, they aimed to develop a brand safety policy that was as secure as possible and also followed the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Unfortunately, Youtube is not the most open platform when it comes to its policy changes. Let's say that you're a blogger who makes quality content for your subscribers, and then one day you wake up and go to Youtube and discover that your videos were removed or demonetized for the most obscure and unexpected reasons. That still happens, you can find a lot of top-level YouTubers talking about it.

There are 8 main things that can get you banned. This includes pornography and nudity, as well as 18+ video content; inciting hatred; association with terrorists; criminal personnel; reference to firearms; radical views, usually political; and also there is such a vague item as "Controversial issues and sensitive events."

The site's algorithm cannot be trusted completely. It can mistakenly do anything with your content, and while you spend your time proving otherwise, part of the audience will leave and you will lose income.

A complete loss of the channel has occurred in some cases. The video blogger NFKRZ accidentally lost all his income for two months because of the video he made in 2014 and was forced to ask for help from subscribers.

Although it appears different from the outside, working more and getting less is usually true if you trust in the free site earning model.

This applies to TikTok, and Instagram, and YouTube, and Linkedin.

Losing all the income for a few months is not a pleasant event.

Therefore, if you are going to make streaming your main source of income, we recommend making at least a part of your content only available behind a paywall. For example, with Callaba Cloud, you will have complete control over your content without any surprises from the streaming platform and you can use the pay-per-view feature.

Try our 5-day free trial on AWS

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