YouTube is to expand a program letting game streamers earn money directly from viewers. It comes across as a clear attempt to compete with the success of Twitch.
Though the Sponsorships program already existed in beta form, it was largely downplayed in favour of a separate scheme for paid access to view a channel. That’s now being dropped.
Instead Sponsorships will now be available to any gaming channel that has live streaming, at least a thousand subscribers, and an owner who is at least 18 years old.
Rather than paying to view videos, ‘sponsors’ will pay $4.99 for a variety of features including live chat access, unlimited commenting, custom emoji, access to buying digital goods, and other perks that are both Twitch-like and utterly baffling to people of my generation.
The sponsorship will run on top of existing advertising revenue for game streaming on YouTube, which is generally allowed.
It appears the long-term goal is to expand Sponsorships to non-gaming channels: YouTube says such channels can now apply to be part of an invite-only test program for the feature.