The complaint is often made that YouTube makes stacks of cash from the videos on its site through advertising, while those who upload the vids get nothing. While this remains true for the vast majority of desperately uninteresting, uninspiring or unfunny dross that inhabits its servers, it has emerged that some of the most popular uploads to the site are actually earning big bucks from YouTube.
The Sunday Times (via The Telegraph) has revealed details of a revenue-sharing initiative by YouTube’s owner, Google, which apportions a chunk of the ad revenues to families that upload some of the most watched videos on the site.
Google has reportedly developed a sophisticated algorithm which can anticipate when videos are likely to ‘go viral’ and explode in popularity to generate an enormous number of hits. YouTube routinely monitors traffic loads across its site, and when the algorithm indicates that an upload is likely to become a massive hit, the company gets in touch with the user who uploaded it to discuss the opportunity to make money via ads on the video page or embedded within the video itself.
Families who upload the most popular videos to YouTube are routinely earning tens of thousands of pounds in the UK, and hundreds of American families also earn six-figure sums from the sharing partnership each year.
In mid-2007, Howard Davies-Carr from the Thames Valley, UK, uploaded a video of his baby son, Charlie, delighting in repeatedly biting the finger of his older brother. Since then, the video has been watched almost 400 million times, and Mr Davies-Carr has made over £100,000 GBP (around $160,000 USD / €115,000 EUR) from the revenue-sharing arrangement with YouTube.
Another video, uploaded in 2008 by David DeVore, of his son coming round after having an anaesthetic during a dental operation, has amassed over 100 million views, and made almost £100,000 in its first year on the site alone.
Even videos that have garnered fewer views have received generous pay-outs. A video recorded by Katie Clem, of her daughter Lily’s reaction to news that they’d be going to Disneyland, has reached almost six million views and earned the family £3,000 ($4,800 / €3,500), and it’s believed that the number of people earning over £6,000 ($9,600 / €7,000) a year through the partnership with YouTube doubled last year.
It appears, though, that Google only targets family videos for the initiative – so even if that vid you uploaded of your best friend falling off his bike and weeping like a little girl was hilarious, don’t expect any big bucks in a YouTube envelope to arrive anytime soon.
Might be a good time to start a family though.