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YouTube says its Partner Program now has 2 million members

The program to pay its creators launched 14 years ago

YouTube’s Partner Program has passed the 2 million creator mark
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

YouTube’s Partner Program, which allows users to make money off their videos, has passed the 2 million creator mark, the company said Monday. The platform has helped turn YouTube into a viable business for top creators like PewDiePie and Jenna Marbles, but it’s also been the cause of consternation for the company when eligible partners — often those same top creators — do something that reflects poorly on the platform and temporarily drives away advertisers.

Creators who qualify for the Partner Program — you need at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of overall watch time on your channel in the past 12 months — can earn money through ads, subscription fees, donations, livestreaming, and YouTube Premium revenue.

The Google-owned company has struggled at times to find the balance between having a lot of creators who rake in ad revenue and keeping advertisers happy. This has included deciding when to remove ads from channels that engage in harassment or other problematic content; while YouTube takes a cut of eligible creators’ ad revenue, if advertisers are wary of a channel’s content, they’ll pull their ads.

YouTube updated its harassment policy in 2019 in response to some creator-on-creator harassment, which was a significant corner of the site for years, and has punished creators who cross legal or ethical lines by demonetizing their channels. In the past year, that’s included demonetizing videos that mention the coronavirus, considered a sensitive topic.

Neal Mohan, chief product officer at YouTube, said in a blog post that the number of new channels joining the program in 2020 more than doubled when compared to 2019, and the number of YouTube channels making six figures or more in revenue is up 35 percent year over year (but he didn’t provide the specific number of creators who make that much money).

“Finding new ways to reward trusted creators financially and help them ramp up their businesses will always be a top priority for us,” Mohan said.