The Top 3% of YouTube Creators Make 90% of the Revenue, Study Finds

Still think you can make money on YouTube?  Well, think again.

So, how much can content creators on YouTube expect to make?

Last year, the team at Information is Beautiful found that content creators only made $1,472 after 2.2 million video views.  This year, The Trichordist noted that the video streaming platform paid a paltry $0.00074 per stream, a slight uptick from last year’s $0.0006 rate.  With the company’s recent update to its monetization eligibility policy, a new study has found that these numbers will only continue to get worse.

Why you probably won’t ever make money from your videos on YouTube.

According to research from Germany, only a few creators will only ever make enough to pay their monthly rent.  The study, done at the Offenburg University Applied Sciences, found that 96.5% all YouTubers won’t make enough revenue to surpass the poverty line in the US.

Speaking with Bloomberg News, Pressor Mathias Bärtl said that very few could enter the top 3% most-viewed channels.  He found that these YouTube channels bring in over $16,800 in advertising revenue per year.  That’s slightly above the US federal poverty line, currently at $12,140 for a single person.  Only the top 3% content creators all time have brought in more than 1.4 million monthly views.

Putting these numbers into perspective, Alice Marwick stated,

Marwick works as an Assistant Pressor Communication at the University North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

So, how much can you expect for every 1,000 views?

According to Lyor Cohen, a top YouTube executive, the video platforms pays out $3 for every 1,000 plays.  The RIAA and other research firms have long refuted this claim, placing the number at around $1.50.

To calculate earnings estimates in his study, Bärtl used an income $1 for every 1,000 views for an average YouTuber.  According to Harry Hugo the Goat Agency, a major influencer marketing firm in London, that number makes sense.

YouTube attempted to spin Bärtl’s findings, stating that it has worked to help content creators earn more money.  A company spokesperson said that the number channels earning hundreds thousands dollars has increased 40% year over year.  Without providing any pro to back up this claim, the spokesperson stated,

According to Bärtl, however, the major revenue imbalance has only become worse.  Twelve years ago, the top 3% channels brought in 63% total YouTube views.  In 2016, top YouTubers received 9 in every 10 views on the platform.  The bottom 85% new YouTubers in 2016 had only a maximum 458 views per month.

Why you shouldn’t expect to make a career on YouTube.

Asher Benjamin publishes over 150 daily video diaries.  The 19-year-old computer science major at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix spends an hour a day editing his videos.  Speaking with Bloomberg, Benjamin remains optimistic that he’ll eventually earn cash from his content.

Benjamin recently hit 100 subscribers.  He had 71 subscribers at the beginning 2018.

Realistically, Benjamin and other similar YouTubers may never make a career from their videos.  Recent changes on the platform have only made it much more difficult.  In January, YouTube changed its monetization eligibility requirements.  To earn money from uploaded videos, content creators will need at least 1,000 subscribers or 4,000 hours total watch time.

Ignoring the harmful results the company’s updated policy, Neal Mohan, YouTube’s Chief Producer Officer, outlandishly claimed last month,

With the revenue gap only worsening, it appears the only one that can expect a bright future is YouTube.


Featured image by Zoella (YouTube screengrab)