September 20, 2017 // 10:49 a.m.
YouTube Gaming, Google's attempt to take on the Amazon-owned Twitch game streaming platform, has announced the launch of a new revenue stream option: Fan-driven channel sponsorship.
Launched back in August 2015, a year after the company was pipped to the post by Amazon in a bid to buy Twitch, YouTube Gaming is - as the name suggests - a game-centric offshoot of Google's YouTube video streaming platform. Since its launch the service has been working overtime to convince Twitch streamers to make the leap, and now Google has announced general availability of a feature it has previously been testing with selected streamers: Fan-driven channel sponsorship.
When thinking of YouTube channel sponsorship it's natural for one's mind to go straight to large companies festooning their logos and products over popular streams while throwing vast quantities of cash at the lucky e-celebs so targeted. YouTube Gaming's new sponsorship option, though, owes more to crowdfunding services like Patreon: 'With sponsorships, fans can purchase digital goods directly from your channel and support you via monthly recurring payments of $4.99 USD (local pricing applies),' explains YouTube Gaming product manager Barbara Macdonald in the launch announcement. 'Sponsors get cool insider perks, such as a custom badge for live chat that will help them stand out from the crowd and custom emoji. These badges and emoji are designed by you for your fans. As you gain more sponsors, you will unlock more emoji to be used on your channel. You can upload and use these in real-time as you pass sponsorship milestones.'
The service still isn't open to all content creators, however: Google's requirements for a channel to enable the sponsorship option includes that its content is available on YouTube Gaming and is gaming-focused, is live-stream enabled, monetised, and has more than 1,000 subscribers at the time of application. The company has confirmed it is experimenting with sponsorship outside of YouTube Gaming but that it is still in closed-beta status.
The launch of YouTube Gaming Sponsorships does come at the cost of the service it replaces: 'Whether your channel is still new or you’ve been a creator for years, we want you to be successful, and sponsorships is part of a wider effort to help build your business on YouTube. As we focus on growing your revenue through YouTube Red, Super Chat, and now sponsorships, we're bidding farewell to a service we launched in 2013 called paid channels,' explains Macdonald. 'This service offered monthly subscriptions for some channels, but with less than 1 percent of creators using it today, it never achieved popularity with creators or users.'
The YouTube Gaming Sponsorships feature is available now for all eligible channels, Google has confirmed.