Facebook wants more video creators to compete with YouTube, so it’s rolling out a subscription feature

Internet star Jake Paul takes a picture with fans.
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Facebook wants to attract more video creators — the kind of creators you usually find on YouTube — so it’s launching a new subscription feature to help those creators make money from their Facebook followers.

Beginning in mid-April, the company will roll out what amounts to a digital tip jar, where fans can send creators money each month in exchange for things like exclusive content, or a badge to put on their profile to show they’re a supporter.

The subscription will cost $4.99 a month, and Facebook won’t take a cut, at least during the test period. But Apple and Google, which will process the transactions on their respective platforms, will take the standard 30 percent cut they take for all in-app purchases they facilitate. That means creators will get about $3.50 for each subscription.

The easy explanation here is that Facebook wants to make sure content creators who share their work on Facebook keep sharing their work on Facebook. When creators can’t make money on a platform (e.g. Vine), they leave and look for places where they can make money (e.g. YouTube).

What’s notable, though, is that Facebook still doesn’t have the kind of robust rev share program that YouTube offers. On YouTube, creators can simply ask Google to run ads before their videos and share the revenue from those ads with the company — 55 percent for creators, 45 percent for YouTube. It’s a super easy, low-effort way for people to make money from their videos.

Facebook doesn’t have anything like that. The company has pushed into mid-roll video ads (commercials) and announced plans to test pre-roll video ads, but it hasn’t built anything comparable to what YouTube has in place.

Instead, Facebook hopes that users will fund the creators they care about. It’s not a terrible idea. Patreon, which also lets fans fund their favorite creators, processed more than $150 million in donations in 2017 and takes a much smaller cut of each contribution — just five percent. Facebook has the largest online audience in the world with over 2.1 billion monthly users. Even if just one percent of users paid for a subscription, that would account for more than $100 million in donations.

This is the second time this year that Facebook has rolled out a feature where people can pay creators they care about. In January, the company announced a tipping feature inside its livestreaming product, Facebook Live. The feature lets people send small sums of money to professional gamers while they’re broadcasting.

Facebook announced the new subscription test on Monday alongside a number of other updates related to creators. A couple of the notable ones:

Facebook says the new subscription feature will go live next month with just 10 creators throughout the U.S. and U.K.


This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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