Exclusive content provides massive profit, exposure for video creators

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Photo by Jasmin Dominguez

It’s easier than it seems to fall into a hole of paid content on the internet.

Internet celebrities like YouTubers and live streamers such as Markiplier and Jacksepticeye have been offering pay-to-view content for years now, and fans have been shelling out cash monthly for some of the exclusive streams, video game playthroughs and more that they choose to put behind a paywall. With so much of this type of content on the internet, why are people choosing to pay a monthly fee for it and how do they decide what they pay for?

The definition of pay-to-view content is in the name. People pay a fee — usually in the form of a monthly subscription — to gain access to a collection of content from that creator. This can include exclusive videos, subscriber-only live streams and special emoticons (emotes) with which to chat or comment.

Pay-to-view content is most commonly seen on popular sites such as Youtube, Twitch and Patreon. On all three platforms, you can subscribe at different levels or “tiers” for different amounts of money. Higher tiers may give more content than lower ones, depending on the creator’s choice. Patreon is exclusively for exclusive content like videos, art and material products, while Twitch’s only benefit — for now — is emotes for chatting. 

“I don’t bother paying for subscriptions from these big YouTubers and Twitch streamers,” said avid fan and Columbia Heights resident Kevin Broecklman. “They’re already rich enough, and I’m satisfied with the free content that they make.”

There is so much paid content on the internet, and consumers may find themselves wondering why people feel incentivized to shell out cash regularly for it. For most, the free content that the creator makes — whether that be live streams, art, etc. — are enough of an incentive. Others want to demonstrate their support through monetary means, in order for the creators to be able to afford making more content for free. 

On Twitch, users have the ability to “gift” subscriptions to others for one month’s time, allowing them full access to the paid content at no cost. Users can gift up to 100 subscriptions at a time, equaling a total cost of $600. This serves as a larger scale method to support the creator while also sharing the benefits with the community.

Popular Twitch streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is a perfect example of a creator that has thrived off of this type of content. During the peak of his streams, the live streamer made over $4 million in a single month through donations and Twitch subscriptions. He can likely now live off these earnings comfortably for the rest of his life, putting out whatever content he wants to at whatever frequency. 

On the other hand, smaller streamers such as NightFoxKilo on Twitch are making nowhere near as much for putting out equal or better content than some of the largest internet personalities. NightFoxKilo has just over 26,000 followers on Twitch, and less than 200 subscribers, which is a total income of less than $1,000 a month. Small streamers like these have great content and greater communities but see drastically less success than someone like Ninja.

With all the paid content on the internet, it’s still important that people don’t spend their life savings on subscriptions or donations to an internet celebrity that is already quite wealthy. Most creators appreciate even the smallest amount of monetary support and will often discourage large donations because they believe the money is much better spent elsewhere, which seems to be the shared belief of many regarding pay-to-view content.