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Creators say Instagram is cutting Reels payouts

Meta announced the Reels bonus payout program in July

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Creators making money using Instagram Reels say their payouts have been slashed in recent weeks and target metrics for monetization have ballooned, according to the Financial Times. Payments are down as much as 70 percent per view and videos need millions more views for creators to get paid.

The Reels Play Bonus Program, announced in July, offers financial rewards to creators who post on Reels, Instagram’s TikTok-style short-form video clone. Payouts ranged from $600 to as much as $35,000 if videos hit a target view count, but creators expressed confusion over how payments and goals were determined. The bonus program is part of a promise by Meta, which owns Instagram, to pay $1 billion to creators through 2022.

Creators say changes in the payout system were not explained by the company. One creator told the Financial Times that their personalized threshold for getting paid up to $35,000 had gone from 58 million views to 359 million views.

Meta told the Financial Times that the company was testing Reels bonuses on Instagram and Facebook, which may cause payouts to “fluctuate” as pricing models are refined. The company did not immediately provide a statement on the record to The Verge.

Other companies like TikTok and Snapchat have introduced similar pools of money to be paid out as they compete to keep creators on their platform. And while payouts directly from platforms can be lucrative for a while, creators have also criticized the programs, saying potential earnings are lower and less predictable than revenue from advertising. The Reels payments were meant to reward posting to the TikTok competitor in the first place. Slashing those payments could disincentivize creators from focusing on Instagram as opposed to TikTok, which other platforms are following when it comes to short-form video.