Revenue-Sharing on YouTube: Probably Not the Apocalypse

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I don’t know what you were doing this weekend, but most of the billionaires I know were in Davos for the World Economic Forum. It was a pretty quiet Davos this year, as evidenced by the fact that it was pretty big news when Chad Hurley mentioned that YouTube might start sharing ad revenue with content creators.

There’s been some occasional speculation about how smart Hurley and co-YouTube-founder Steve Chen were, and how much luck was involved in their $1.65 billion payday, but in this case I think they played it just right. Sure, they’re giving up the pure driven-snow quality that YouTube has right now, where people just upload for the fun of it and the street cred of it. But I expect the actual amount of money people will make off YouTube videos will be pretty small, pizza-money small. (I’d be curious whether anybody has even an educated guess about order of magnitudes here?) Enough to encourage some talent that might be on the fence about posting, and keep people from departing in droves to sites like Revver, but not enough to take the anti-commercial edge off the site.

The only thing I worry about is that it’ll step up the already brutal levels of comment-spam. If people will stoop that low just for bragging rights, think how low they’ll stoop for $1.50 check from Chad Hurley. Click here for the surprisingly professional-sounding Comment Spam song, to the tune of “Secret Agent Man.”