Content Creation Monetization

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What is Content Creation Monetization?

Content Creation Monetization has three distinct definitions that culminate to make an encapsulating definition. Content has a variety of meanings in digital and physical use cases. For the context of this wiki, content means media, specifically live and recorded video. Creation is simply developing content, which in this case would be video creators and companies that support them. Concurrently, monetization represents methods to make money off a good, which in this case would benefit the creators of content. This means content creation monetization is best defined as the methods video producers use to generate revenue in return for creating entertainment.

Linear vs. Non-Linear

Before understanding the intricacies, defining the two broad formats of entertainment is crucial. These formats are linear and non-linear entertainment.

Linear entertainment is programming that is only consumable at a specific time and location. This would be similar to attending a live, in-person event like a concert. In our particular context, this refers to streaming real-time programs that air 24 hours, 7 days a week. This is similar to traditional TV broadcasts wherein the audience is not able to control what they want to watch unlike on-demand streaming where one can fast-forward or reverse a show. It is a passive streaming experience because viewers are only able to search and switch between programs and shows being broadcasted at a similar time.

Non-linear entertainment is programming that is pre-recorded and can be consumed at any time or in any sequence. This would be similar to reading a book, listening to a CD or downloaded album. In our particular context, this refers to streaming programs that can be interacted with by consumers. This includes on-demand, stored, and time-shifted programming. Non-linear programming allows users to stream videos at any time; and includes features such as the ability to record a show, choose what is watched, and whether to fast-forward or reverse video.

History

First-edition cover of “Around the World in 80 Days”[1]

Content creation monetization is rooted in the beginnings of consumer society, where several events take place and formulate how creators earn revenue from their work.

Industrial Revolution and 19th Century

First TV ad aired in 1941 for Bulova Watches[2]

A natural starting point when discussing the history of content creation monetization is the Industrial Revolution, which occurred from the 1760s until the 1840s. As a result of feudal structures collapsing, the idea of mass-market entertainment in both linear and non-linear formats was embraced by a majority of individuals who now possessed purchasing power.[3] While at first consumer media was in the form of in-person linear entertainment and non-linear printed entertainment such as newspapers, other new transformations in terms of capturing and monetizing entertainment occurred later this century. Examples of these transformations included early record technology that began development in the 1850s,[4] as well as the first product placements in the 1873 novel “Around the World in 80 days”.[5] This meant advancements in the 19th century were not limited to establishing a market for entertainment. Furthermore, both recording media and placing advertisements within the content itself are incredibly prominent in today's society, which makes these advancements incredibly pivotal.

Early 20th Century

Video Store 1986[6]

As the 20th century began, linear entertainment continued to be mostly in person; which led linear entertainment providers to explore alternative methods for revenue generation outside of admittance. This was exhibited in 1912 with the opening of Fenway Park in Boston, where the Fenway Realty Company made a significant investment in the construction of the stadium.[7] Stadium attendees witnessed the first application of advertisements during a linear event, which would serve as a beginning for the next stage in linear entertainment advertising that coincided with television development. As television sets began to proliferate in the mid-to-late 1930s, the broadcast media industry would become established.[8] Developing revenue sources would be important in this period, ultimately leading to the first television advertisement aired during a Brooklyn Dodgers/Philadelphia Phillies baseball game in 1941.[9] This baseball game served as a hallmark event for what media consumers experience today. In addition to these changes in linear entertainment, further advancements were made by developing new media formats for consumers to enjoy non-linear entertainment. These included the launch of long-playing (LP) records in 1948, later to be replaced by the cassette tape format in 1963.[10] While these non-linear advancements addressed audio formats, they would open the non-linear entertainment market up to a new format of media and later serve as a starting point for non-linear video storage.

Late 20th Century

The popularization of television sets amongst mass-market consumers provoked the advent of the non-linear VHS and Betamax formats in the early 1970s. [11] This would later develop the incredibly powerful video rental business, with the first rental store opening in Los Angeles in 1977. [12] Following failed lawsuits by content producers attempting to ban video stores in the early 1980s, the widely recognized Blockbuster rental store would open in 1985. [12] Blockbuster would soon become a household name globally, with 10,000 stores in operation at its peak.[12] The video rental store introduced entertainment consumers to the concept that owning physical copies of non-linear media was not necessary. This would serve as a basis for the monetization methods employed by many non-linear entertainment companies today. VHS and Betamax were not the only revolutions in non-linear entertainment, as video games would become an additional form of non-linear entertainment in 1972 with the successful launch of Pong.[13] Apart from selling games and consoles to generate revenue, video games would gain another form of monetization. In 1994, the inaugural FIFA soccer game was the first to feature in-game advertisements for the sporting brand Adidas.[14] Today, video game streaming is incredibly popular. Streaming video games with in-game advertisements make it possible for a brand to increase its exposure to the viewers in addition to the player; this makes in-game advertisement contracts increasingly lucrative. While non-linear entertainment was going through a massive revolution, linear entertainment also saw a crucial development. In 1972, the first pay-TV channel, HBO was launched.[15] By using a high-frequency bandwidth to exclusively transmit content to paying customers,[15] HBO would demonstrate the beginnings of users paying for access to linear forms of entertainment.

The advent of the internet in the 1990s provided several emerging opportunities for both linear and non-linear entertainment creators. Beginning in 1993, internet advocate Carl Malamud shared weekly radio shows as a downloadable, non-linear audio file.[16] This served as a major step forward since internet content until this point was mostly text and the occasional picture. During that same year, multi-casting technology began to be used in select circumstances. This started with the sci-fi movie "Wax or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees", which was the first movie broadcasted live across the internet on May 24, 1993.[17] The broadcast of this movie would be considered to be a linear stream of a non-linear entertainment format, similar to watching a movie in a theatre. This is different from the next revolution exactly one month later; when California rock band “Severe Tire Damage” performed in the first live event that was live-streamed on the internet.[18] In this case, the concert would be a completely linear experience since the band was performing live while being broadcast live, which is inherently more complex. While both of these attempts featured a user experience that would have been incredibly poor by today’s standards,[19] they showed promise for the future of using the internet as a medium for streaming entertainment in linear and non-linear formats.

New Millennium

The First Netflix Original Series, LilyHammer[20]

The future of using the internet to stream video entertainment became apparent in the new millennium. During this time, many of today’s major video streaming companies in both linear and non-linear entertainment became established. The year 2005 would mark the launch of YouTube, which quickly gained attention after a Lonely Island music video was unofficially re-shared on the network in December 2005.[21] YouTube would be acquired by Google less than a year later in October 2006.[21] While YouTube made non-linear video streaming popular, Justin.tv would launch in 2007 to become one of the most popular linear video streaming sites. Justin.tv would serve as the basis for what ultimately would become today’s TwitchTV in 2014.[22] While YouTube and Justin.tv were massively successful in testing new technologies and making content sharing easier for the average users, Netflix would adopt content streaming technology to deliver professionally developed TV shows and Movies through their non-linear subscription streaming service that launched 2007.[23] This was a major advancement compared to other companies, such as Amazon and Apple, which only offered online storefronts to purchase digital TV shows and movies. By developing a platform for professionally produced non-linear content through a streaming method, Netflix would use this as a major advantage going into the following decade.

2010s

Because of continued technical advancements, the 2010s would see major adoption and new entrants within the video streaming space. Notably, Amazon would transform their existing “Amazon Unbox” online TV and movie storefront into a non-linear streaming service most consumers would identify as Prime Video in 2011.[24] Concurrently, Netflix achieved major milestones including reaching over 26 million subscribers worldwide in 2011.[25] With Amazon moving into streaming video and Netflix gaining incredible subscriber counts, this would serve as a proof of concept for new entrants that would enter the market mid-way through the 2010s. These new entrants included regional offerings like Bell Media’s Crave in Canada. With new entrants on the horizon, developing distinctiveness among competitors became crucial. One of the most popular ways for these services to create distinctiveness involved creating original content that would be exclusive for a platform. Netflix began experimenting with this in 2012 by creating their first Netflix Original Series, Lillyhammer.[26] This eliminated the need for traditional content creation companies like TV networks, on whom Netflix previously relied for streaming deals; ultimately demonstrating a radical shift in professional entertainment production. Developing original programming would continue to become prevalent on Netflix, Prime Video, and other streaming platforms. Exclusive and original content would later become the premise for the latest major entrants in the professionally developed non-linear streaming industry. In particular, Apple’s TV+ and Disney+ who both launched within weeks of each other in 2019, use their libraries of exclusive content as advantages to draw subscribers in.

Industry Overview

According to research, the global video streaming market was worth $42.60 billion USD in 2019. Further, the market size value of global video streaming is projected to be $50.10 billion USD by the end of 2020. This market size is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.40% from 2020 to 2027. This growth is largely credited to the solutions segment which dominates the video streaming market and is expected to remain dominant throughout the forecasted period. Some factors contributing to the growth of the streaming industry leading to content monetization include increases in disposable income, changes in lifestyle, rise in smartphone penetration, and accessibility of internet connection.[27]

The video streaming industry currently has a total of 882 million users with a penetration rate of 11.90%.[28] This percentage represents the proportion of people who become avid users and consumers of streaming platforms. Lastly, the average revenue per user or (ARPU) for this year is 58.52 USD. This is quite a large amount when considering how much an average subscription to platforms like Netflix would cost which is around $10 to $15. One reason for this is that consumers could have other subscriptions to other platforms or subscriptions to certain television channels.

Streaming Types

Linear live streaming refers to streaming real-time programs that air 24 hours, 7 days a week. This is similar to traditional TV broadcasts wherein the audience is not able to control what they want to watch, unlike on-demand streaming where one can fast-forward or reverse a show. It is a passive streaming experience because viewers are only able to search and switch between programs and shows also being broadcasted at a similar time.

Nonlinear streaming refers to streaming programs that can be interacted with by consumers. This includes on-demand, stored, and time-shifted programming. Nonlinear programming allows users to stream videos and media at any time and includes features such as the ability to choose what we watch, to fast-forward or reverse a show, and to record programs.

Solution Types

Internet Protocol Television(IPTV) is a streaming solution type that uses internet technology to deliver on-demand programs[29]. Instead of making use of antennas, satellite dishes, or fiber-optic cables, IPTV is streamed through an internet connection.

The three basic types of IPTV are video on demand (VOD), time-shifted IPTV and live IPTV[29]. Video on demand is a service that allows users to select a program or movie from a wide selection of available programs or movies typically licensed to the company. On the other hand, time-shifted IPTV allows users to record programs or movies to some form of storage medium to be viewed at a future time. Lastly, live IPTV, also known as IP simulcasting, involves streaming live TV programs on the internet as they are being broadcasted.

Over the Top (OTT) streaming solution that refers to programs and content provided via a high-speed internet connection rather than a cable or satellite provider[30]. This essentially makes OTT similar to IPTV with one key difference which is that OTT is usually delivered through an open network like the internet while IPTV is delivered through a private internet connection like a Local Area Network (LAN) or a privately managed network[31].

OTT content can be accessed through computers but is often watched on web-enabled television or through an internet-enabled device like those of Apple TVs, Chromecast, PlayStations, Xbox, Amazon Firestick among others. OTT content can also be viewed across multiple devices[32].

Pay-TV is a streaming solution that refers to traditional television services that require the use of cables or satellite providers. Pay-TV may include pay-per-view content for certain programs like those of sporting events. It typically does not include internet-based streaming services and features like those provided by IPTV and OTT. Pay-TV is a solution that charges a larger subscription fee for TV channels as compared to internet-based streaming services which usually charge a smaller subscription fee.

IPTV vs OTT

Both IPTV and OTT refer to delivering content to end-users but there are differences in how this content is delivered. Here are some basic differences. As previously mentioned, IPTV makes use of closed private network connections while OTT makes use of an open and unmanaged internet. IPTV usually requires some form of infrastructure like a set-top box which would be connected to a device like television in order to stream content. This is usually provided by the operator. On the other hand, OTT does not need any extra network infrastructure[33]. In terms of content, IPTV is closer to traditional television subscriptions with TV broadcasts available, as well as premium video-on-demand content. Some examples of IPTV include Showtime, Fox Network, CBS, HBO among others. OTT on the other hand offers freemium content. Freemium refers to a business model or pricing strategy that involves both complimentary services as well as extra-cost services. Examples of OTT include Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu. IPTV is typically more pricey with a price close to that of traditional satellite or cable fees. OTT is not as pricey compared to IPTV as we can see through the subscription prices of Netflix and other OTT examples. Finally, in terms of quality, OTT is usually at the mercy of internet speed. It is therefore way more susceptible to buffering and long wait times. IPTV provides higher quality with fewer interruptions as it runs on a privately managed network[34].

IPTV Architecture[35]
OTT Architecture[36]

Revenue Model

A subscription revenue model is the most familiar model for video streaming service providers. Subscription models typically offer a free trial period followed by automatically charged fees for access to the platform and content.[37] There is usually a variety of subscription plan options that charge different amounts based on length of subscription, number of users, number of devices, video quality, among other offerings[37]. Companies that make use of a subscription revenue model offers users a broad spectrum of genres and topics allowing the user to freely select what they want to watch. Some popular examples of companies that make use of subscription models include Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO.

A transactional revenue model is one where customers buy content on a pay-per-view basis. Its cost-effective nature makes it perfect for users who prefer to pay a certain price for a single product. There are two categories for the transactional model: electronic sell-through (EST) and download to rent (DTR)[38]. The former gives permanent access to customers while the latter gives temporary access to customers. Moreover, EST is the more expensive option compared to the DTR option. The transactional model does not require users to pay a recurring fee nor does it give users an option to scroll through a broad spectrum of genres and topics and more[37]. Examples of platforms that use a transactional revenue model include iTunes, Amazon’s Video Store, and Sky Box Office.

An advertisement revenue model is different from that of the subscription and transactional revenue model. The advertisement revenue model is free to use for consumers, but consumers have to watch the ads[38]. This is similar to traditional broadcast television channels where one cannot skip an advertisement. These are usually seen on websites such as YouTube or DailyMotion since these companies use the revenue from ads to offset both production and hosting costs[38].

A hybrid revenue model makes use of a combination of at least two of these revenue models[38]. Two such examples are YouTube and Sky. YouTube makes use of the subscription, transactional, and advertisement revenue model. On the other hand, Sky makes use of a subscription model and a transactional model.

End Users

There are two basic types of end-users. The first is personal users. Consumers typically stream for real-time entertainment such as sports streams. They browse the internet for news and live updates, advertising purposes, as well as to play and stream video games. Finally, as of late, online learning has been gaining popularity as a result of the pandemic. The second type of end-user is enterprises. Typical uses of streaming are for corporate communications, knowledge sharing, collaborations, marketing, client engagement, and training and development. This became more common as a result of the pandemic with people working from home now and people telecommuting.

Market Drivers and Restraints

Market Drivers

Increase in disposable income

As of October 12, 2020, per capita disposable income in Canada was $33,528. Household disposable income in Canada has grown at an annualized growth rate of 1.7%[39]. With the increase in average disposable income, it is no surprise that people are able to spend more on streaming services to pass time. However, there is not necessarily a correlation between disposable income and free time for leisure activities such as video streaming. But with more money to spend, people are now able to subscribe to more services or purchase content online.

Higher Standard of Living

Related to increases in disposable income is that of better living standards. One way to measure improvements in living standards is to take a look at GDP per capita which is a measure of the growth rate of labor productivity and labor utilization. COVID-19 aside, GDP per capita in Canada has been increasing. According to data from the World Bank, GDP per capita in Canada grew 0.21867% in 2019[40]. GDP per capita adjusted for the pandemic in 2020 will surely be lower than that of 2019 but hopefully, when the global situation starts transitioning towards the new normal, GDP per capita will continue to increase which will then lead to better standards of living.

Penetration of Smartphones

In 2020, the number of global smartphone users is projected to total 3.5 billion users which is approximately a 9% increase from last year[41]. With a total global population of 7.7 billion people, 45.45% of the world will own a smartphone. To put things into perspective, out of every ten people, four people will own a smartphone. Most, if not all smartphones today have some form of streaming function in them along with a connection to the internet. Now that smartphones are more accessible and convenient, it is expected that an increase in smartphone users will equate to more video streaming in both linear and nonlinear formats.

Increased Accessibility to the Internet

As of October 2020, 4.66 billion people were active internet users[42]. That encompasses approximately 59% of the global population. Similar to increasing smartphone usage, an increasing number of internet users is likely to lead to more video streaming in both linear and non-linear formats.

Personalized Experiences

Personalized experiences drive more to the point of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) when it comes to streaming platforms. The ability for AI to create or curate a list of recommended shows based on our preferences and viewing history allows for a personalized experience which is what many users look for in platforms. Through recommendation lists generated by AI and ML, users are more engaged and the platform becomes more convenient for users as they do not have to scroll through all the movies and shows available. Alternatively, the search function can be used to find what you want and if the search result is unable to provide the specific movie or show, the embedded AI automatically generates a list of movies in that genre. One good example of a company that makes use of AI and ML is Netflix[43].

Changes in Lifestyle

This market driver is more closely related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we know, the pandemic has forced us to alter the way we go about our daily lives. The pandemic is a good example to demonstrate how people’s lifestyles can change quite drastically over such a short period of time. With people staying home, viewership on streaming platforms increased by over 70% from last year. This is expected to normalize or decrease over the next year or so when things normalize but for now, it puts into perspective how our lives have been affected so far this year.

Market Restraints

High Content Creation Costs

Producing content in itself can be a rather costly process. One example is Netflix. Netflix originals spent approximately 15 billion last year and the company is looking to top 17 billion this year.[44] For many of the top streaming platform providers and service providers, this may not seem like much in terms of how they spend their money but for much smaller platforms, this makes it almost impossible to compete with the streaming giants.

Threat of Content Piracy

Content piracy has always been a threat especially for companies with licenses to stream and companies that produce their own original content.[45] Content piracy gets technical in terms of laws and policies surrounding licensing deals and copyright content but essentially, by law, the act of streaming is not illegal as compared to downloading content which is by law, an illegal act based on copyright laws. Content piracy has always been a constant threat but not much is heard on the news about streaming giants going after illegal streaming websites.

Key Market Players

Some of the largest, key market players include:

YouTube[46] Netflix[47] Amazon Prime[48] Skybox[49] Sling[50] Disney[51] AppleTV[52]

Insights

Streaming Type Insights

In 2019, the linear streaming segment accounted for 60% of revenues while the nonlinear streaming segment accounted for 40%. With the increasing number of smartphones and other “smart” devices, as well as stronger internet connection, there will surely be an increase in usage for both the linear and nonlinear streaming segments, but mostly for linear streaming. Some other factors that can drive the linear streaming segment include ad-free content, analytics tracking, and the surplus of content available[53].

Further, the nonlinear streaming segment is also expected to grow into the future. With a better internet connection, buffering and lag are likely to be reduced which will in turn increase the market size and revenues of the nonlinear segment.[53] Further, the nonlinear streaming type is expected to become more mainstream across all age groups as people are becoming more familiarized and skilled with nonlinear streaming platforms.

Solution Insights

The OTT segment accounted for 40% of revenues across the three solution types. OTT revenue is expected to grow to $86 billion dollars by 2026 with a CAGR of 14.30%.[53] This growth is credited to the growing penetration of smartphones and the adoption of online streaming services. Additionally, because OTT does not necessarily require users to subscribe to traditional cable and TV, it makes for an attractive solution for users. Finally, some of the emerging trends in OTT include hybrid monetization models, demand for original content, content fragmentation, among others. All of which are also expected to contribute to the growth of the OTT segment and the growth of the streaming solutions market.[53]

Platform Insights

The smartphone and tablets accounted for 31% of revenues across various platforms available for streaming in 2019.[53] This is easily attributed to increases in disposable income, standards of living, and lifestyle changes. Additionally, smartphones and tablets offer portability making it a preferred device for streaming content online. With the expected growth in the number of smartphone and tablet owners this year, along with the current number of devices, revenues from smartphones and tablets are expected to grow even further and therefore lead to an increase in its share of revenues across various platforms.

On the other hand, “smart” devices such as smart TVs are expected to grow at a CAGR of 16.52% up to 2025 with the majority of its growth coming from the Asia Pacific region[54]. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the global market for smart TVs is approximately worth $167.2 billion as of 2020. Further by 2027, this is expected to be a $300 billion industry as smart TVs offer a wide variety of channels as well as streaming platforms making it convenient for users[55].

Revenue Model Insights

Among the four revenue models, the subscription model accounted for the largest share of revenues in 2019[53]. The subscription model accounted for 43% of total revenues and is expected to grow further at a CAGR of 10.70% up to 2025 making the estimated market volume worth $85.73 billion[28]. This growth is attributed to a spike in the penetration rate of the subscription model which is 11.9% this year and is expected to be 17.2% by 2025[28]. This model has gained momentum for the variety of licensed content available on streaming platforms as well as the original content offered by companies like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, among others.

Recently, however, the advertising model has emerged with a rapid growth projection of over 25% from 2019 to 2020[55]. Advertising revenue growth is largely credited to heightened demand for streaming therefore increasing the viewership of ads. Further, the high price charged to companies wanting to stream ads equates to more revenues from advertisements.

Deployment Insights

The cloud deployment type recorded more than 57% of revenues in 2019 in the deployment segment.[53] This was largely credited to advancements in cloud computing technology. By 2023, it is expected to grow up to 23% with a market value of $2.60 trillion.[56] Cloud deployment type provides scalability and flexibility that allow streaming companies to meet customer demand and therefore monetize content. The majority of streaming platforms adopt a cloud deployment type to take advantage of bandwidth and speed. Lastly, cloud deployment type helps in dealing with latency issues.

From the perspective of larger enterprises and SMEs, a cloud deployment type is more practical as it is more capable of handling large amounts of data content, therefore, providing a better overall experience for companies especially when it comes to meetings, training sessions, marketing, among other business functions.

User Insights

The consumer segment accounted for 51.20% of revenues in 2019 while the enterprise segment accounted for 48.80%.[53] This is largely due to the rise in video-on-demand and streaming viewership. This is expected to grow further as a result of people staying home more during this COVID-19 pandemic. Other reasons for growth in the consumer segment include increases in smartphones, mobile subscriptions, and internet-connected devices.

The enterprise segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.6% between 2020 to 2027.[53] The growth is largely resulting from increasing online training and communication platforms. Similar to the consumer segment, the pandemic will help the segment grow at an even faster rate with people working from home and telecommuting. Increasing the stability of internet connections and flexibility in remote working conditions will drive the growth in this segment.

Regional Insights

In 2019, the North American region accounted for 39% of revenues of the global streaming market as a result of the growth in cloud deployment streaming services.[53] This number is expected to substantially increase as a result of the pandemic. Europe maintained a sizable market share as well as the streaming industry and is expected to continue to grow. However, the APAC region is expected to demonstrate the highest CAGR of 20.70% from 2019 to 2025.[53] Increased adoption of blockchain and AI are among the key contributors to the growth of streaming in the APAC region. Other factors expected to contribute to the growth of revenues in the APAC region include increased use of mobile and tablet devices, advancements in technology, and the sheer popularity of online streaming.

Furthermore, Southeast Asian operators or service providers have increased and expanded their content monetization opportunities by offering multichannel services along with mobile packages.[53] These are a few of the many initiatives taken by operators to monetize content in the Asia Pacific region which will, in turn, increase the total streaming revenues.

Linear and Non-Linear Streaming Platforms

TwitchTV

TwitchTV Logo [57]

The most dominant player in the linear streaming market is TwitchTV. Originating as JustinTV in 2007[58], TwitchTV has become the universal platform for all aspiring content creators to display their personality, gameplay, and creativity online. At first, streaming was simply an avenue for content creators to stay connected with their fans and viewers for entertainment purposes. This meant monetization was not a priority of early linear content creators. However, as e-sports gained popularity, the incentive to make money while entertaining became prominent. Currently, the most popular content creators stream games such as League of Legends, Dota 2, Fortnite, and Counter-Strike[59].

Twitch Streamer Revenue Breakdown

To become a TwitchTV streamer, users must become a Twitch Affiliate or a Twitch Partner.[60]

Twitch Affiliate Twitch Partner
50 Followers
500 total broadcast minutes within 30 days
7 unique broadcast days within 30 days
3+ average viewers within 30 days
Minimum 25 hours streamed within 30 day period
12 unique broadcast days within 30 day period
75 average viewers within 30 day period
TwitchTV Dashboard[61]


The entry position is Twitch Affiliate, where you must show a commitment to streaming. Once the user has become an Affiliate, they have to meet minimum requirements before they can become a Partner and start making money.[60]

On average, content creators can expect to make around $3,000 to $5,000 monthly from streaming games on TwitchTV.[62] As a result, TwitchTV’s revenue for 2019 was approximately $1.54 billion.[63] Remuneration is dependent on the following four components: viewership and advertisements, donations, subscriptions and partnerships.[60]

TwitchTV has implemented an unconventional way of donations for streamers, where viewers purchase “bits” to donate to the streamers.[60] Each bit is worth $0.01 and viewers normally purchase thousands of bits to donate to their streamers. TwitchTV makes money by taking a percentage of these bits purchases.[60] Oftentimes, viewers provide further support to their favourite content creators by donating money directly to them rather than through the purchase of bits. This way, TwitchTV is not privy to any of the donations the creator receives.

Viewership and advertisements are the second component of the remuneration for content creators.[60] TwitchTV provides an advertisement button on their platform for content creators to use when wanting to display ads. With a high viewership, advertisements reach more viewers and provide content creators with more money. Alternatively, they can opt to hit the advertisement button more often for additional income. However, too many advertisements may deter viewers so each individual content creator must find the perfect balance when deciding how often to display advertisements on their streams.[60]

Subscriptions are the third component of the remuneration for content creators. For many popular content creators, this is the largest part of their income as viewers have many incentives for being subscribed.[60] These include advertisement-free viewing, subscriber-mode only chat, custom-made emoticons, and more, depending on their subscription tier.[60] Many viewers subscribe rather than pay bits as there is a high incentive for them to do so. Traditionally, TwitchTV would take approximately half of the cut on subscriptions, but popular content creators have more bargaining power and they are normally entitled to 70% of the subscription profits.[60]

Subscription Structure Price Features
Tier 1 $4.99 Custom emoticons
No advertisements
Subscriber-only chat
Custom Built-In Subscriber Perks
Tier 2 $9.99 Additional emoticons for viewers
Custom Built-In Subscriber Perks
Tier 3 $24.99 Additional emoticons for viewers
Custom Built-In Subscriber Perks


The last component is partnerships that content creators may have established. Certain content creators who have large enough sign contracts with gaming organizations that provide them with a salary. In addition to these salaries, content creators and e-sports organizations often sign deals with companies such as Disney, Mercedes-Benz, Corsair, Redbull, etc.[64] As these content creators become more popular, the more lucrative the partnerships become.[65]

Content Creator 'DisguisedToast' [66]
Monthly Income Breakdown for DisguisedToast

Jeremy Wang is a famous content creator under the name “DisguisedToast”. In 2018, he released a video breakdown of his monthly revenues while he was still with TwitchTV. At the time of the video release, Wang had only started becoming established and generating a steady income. This puts into perspective how much the most popular content creators can actually earn, given that Wang was already pulling in $20,000 monthly as a medium-top tier content creator. Since the release of the video, DisguisedToast has signed and transitioned over to Facebook's streaming platform, where he aims to help build their gaming platform.[66] As of December 2020, he is one of the most popular "Among Us" streamers, accumulating over two million views per video released on YouTube.

Income Avenue Earnings(monthly)
Donations $2,500
Advertisements $4,000
Subscriptions $14,000
Partnerships $1,000 - $10,000
Professional Gamer & Streamer: Faker
Franchise E-Sports Player 'Faker' [67]

The most iconic League of Legends player, Faker (Lee Sang-hyeok), is the closest thing to a "franchise" player in e-sports. Born and raised in Seoul, Faker began playing League of Legends in 2011, where he eventually signed with the professional e-sports organization SKT-T1.[68] Since then, Faker has amassed a large global following, where his brand image and reputation alone has e-sports organizations offering him blank cheques.[69]. On TwitchTV, Faker first set the world record for concurrent viewers in 2016, where he had over 245,000 viewers watching his stream.[70] Most recently, Faker has re-signed with SKT-T1, negotiating a clause that gave him partial ownership of the organization.[71] Additionally, he has negotiating a management position with SKT-T1 once his gaming career is over.[71]

The E-sports environment for content creation is still an extremely new industry that possesses the ability to expand as entertainment consumption continues to rapidly shift online. This is especially given the impact of COVID-19, where demand for online content is high as consumers resort to the internet to satisfy their entertainment needs.[72] While being a content creator does not seem as sophisticated as a traditional job, the ones who are wise with their budgeting and finances could potentially make enough to never work again if they are cautious with their investments. On the other hand, being a content creator can also provide many different job avenues with potential companies; as their popularity alone is attractive enough for companies to hire them.

YouTube

YouTube[73]

YouTube is the pioneer of all online video-on-demand services today and is globally recognized as the one platform for all users to collectively upload videos for entertainment purposes. Launched in 2005, Youtube was founded by three former PayPal employees, Jawed Karim, Steve Chen, and Chad Hurley.[67] The first-ever YouTube video to officially hit one million viewers was a Nike advertisement commercial and this platform proved to be a worthwhile investment for Google, as they acquired the company one year later for approximately $1.65 billion.[67] Since then, YouTube has grown exponentially through continuously finding methods to stay competitive despite the numerous competitors entering the market caused by consumer reliance on technology and social media.

YouTube Revenue Breakdown

Becoming a YouTuber is as simple as having a working camera, a computer, and access to the internet. The difficult part is getting recognition and accumulating thousands of views, which is when the content creators finally start making money.

The payout structure for YouTubers is surprisingly low, as they only pay out $0.10 - $0.30 per advertisement view, and about $0.18 per video view.[74] The estimated payout for a video with one thousand views is about $3 - $5, depending on the popularity of the YouTuber and their advertisement engagement.[74] Additionally, YouTube only starts paying individuals once they have accumulated enough views to pay out $100 to the creator.[75] The following factors affect the amount of money YouTubers can make on their videos:[75]

  • Number of views per video
  • Advertisement engagement and clicks
  • Length of videos
  • Quality of advertisements
  • Adblock
"Elite" YouTube's Top Earners(2019)[76]

YouTube Partnership Program

Similarly to TwitchTV, YouTube has a partnership program. Aspiring creators must meet these minimum requirements before being accepted into the partnership program, including:[75]

  • 1,000 minimum subscribers
  • 4,000 hours of content watched by consumers within 12 months
  • AdSense account

Given that YouTube video payout is relatively low, many content creators use it as a side income.[77] For example, many e-sport content creators mainly stream their games live on other platforms as their main source of income; but upload pre-recorded highlights on Youtube for additional revenue. Another example would be content creators who fix or improve exotic cars, while also uploading educational videos for consumers to learn from. Oftentimes, individuals with expertise in a particular area upload do it yourself (DIY) educational videos for consumers to follow when taking on personal projects. Very few content creators are considered to be in the “elite” company where they can make a lucrative amount of money from just YouTube, but thousands of creators are capable of using it as a supplementary income.

Another avenue of income available for YouTubers includes Affiliate links for advertisements, their own personal merchandise for fans, and sponsorships if they are popular enough.

Many companies such as Amazon, Nike, and Adidas have exclusive partnerships with certain creators for more exposure.[78] Normally, the most popular creators get partnerships with iconic brands while the smaller creators have partnerships with smaller brands.[78] Nonetheless, it is still another source of income for YouTubers to advertise their affiliate’s products. Many creators with a large following also invest in research and development(R&D) for their own personal merchandise. They offer branded shirts, sweaters, water bottles, fitness attire, hats, and more depending on the style of their channels.

Merchandise from the FULL SEND x UFC Collaboration[79]

Personal Merchandise

Merchandise is becoming an increasingly popular way to generate revenue as a YouTube creator, especially since most YouTubers are able to develop a personal brand early in their content creation journey. There are several companies that assist with this process, including Premiere Ikon[80], FanJoy[81] and HUB111[82] that provide turnkey solutions for creators to develop merchandise. These solutions cover many of the essentials including design, copyrighting, full-stack website creation, production, and distribution. [80] Ultimately, this creates a seamless experience for content creators to generate significant revenue; with some of YouTube’s most popular creators generating upwards of $6 million in revenue from merchandise alone.[83] Merchandise has been so successful for some creators that it has become a standalone company outside of their content focus. The YouTube channel NELK exhibits this with their company, FULL SEND. Despite NELK starting FULL SEND and still promoting it through their channel, FULL SEND has transformed into a distinct entity. This was showcased during their most recent collaboration with the UFC.[84]

While merchandise can be seen as a method to secure an additional source of income outside of YouTube, YouTube has embraced creators selling merchandise. This was proven through YouTube’s partnership with merchandise production company, Teespring, in 2018.[85] With this partnership, creators are able to design and price merchandise lines through Teespring, before natively integrating their custom product offerings with their uploads. While YouTube does take a portion of each sale Teespring fulfills, they claim to take it from the Teespring side.[85]

YouTube Streaming

YouTube Premium vs YouTube Music[86]

Recently, YouTube has recognized the potential within streaming as a consistent revenue stream. Especially with the ongoing pandemic, more individuals have time to pick up streamable hobbies. Alternatively, others are resorting to gaming, which is also a feature available on YouTube for streaming. Similarly to TwitchTV, content creators on YouTube can earn money through advertisements, subscriptions, and donations through chat. With YouTube, most of the revenue comes from advertisements as they are more established as a whole than TwitchTV and have bigger advertisement sponsors. They also recently implemented a subscription model that behaves similarly to TwitchTV’s but has yet to officially launch. As a result, most of the revenue from YouTube streaming is through a contract that content creators sign with YouTube, or through advertisements and donations.[87]

YouTube Music and Premium

In 2018, Google released YouTube Music which provided viewers with music videos, remixes, cover songs from different artists, and live music events.[88] Additionally, the application allowed users to listen to the music in the background with the phone off or download the music for offline use. The subscription price for the ad-free version of YouTube Music is $9.99, while YouTube Premium, Google's other subscription is $11.99 and offers the same features as YouTube Music but with video capabilities. Both videos and music videos are available advertisement-free while also having the capability to be used without having the app opened, and downloadable for offline use.[88] Many users opt for the YouTube premium subscription, as YouTube premium offers much more content while only being $2 more per month.[88]

COVID-19 on TwitchTV and YouTube

While COVID-19 has negatively impacted many industries across the world, online streaming has been positively impacted, with YouTube and Twitch benefiting the most. Since March 2020, Twitch has seen a 10% viewership increase while YouTube Gaming has seen a 15% viewership increase. [87] During the first month of lockdown in March, the entire sector grew by nearly 45%.[86]This is largely due to restrictions, as consumers got the opportunity to stream their games, vlog their everyday lives, create DIY and educational videos, and more. Additionally, consumers had more time to watch videos online, resulting in a large increase in viewership.[86] While these numbers will surely slow down once the vaccine for COVID-19 is released, this is still a huge step for the industry as even more consumers are exposed to the world of online streaming.

Netflix

Netflix Logo[89]

The founders decided to start Netflix because they wanted the “Amazon.com” of something. It was originally opened in 1997 to rival Blockbusters’ rental services so Netflix started as a traditional pay per rental model then launched as a subscription concept. Blockbuster then launched online to compete with Netflix offering unlimited DVD rental at a flat rate. In 2007, Netflix launched as a streaming service as it recognized the evolving technology and the potential for the streaming industry.[90]

Netflix, Inc. is the world’s leading subscription streaming entertainment service with over 190 million paid streaming memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Netflix members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials.[91]There are currently only four countries that don’t have Netflix: China, North Korea, Crimea, and Syria.[92]

Subscription Model

There are three categories of plan types and these prices vary depending on the country. These prices displayed in the chart below are US prices.[93]

Subscription Plans Basic Standard Premium
Number of Active Devices 1 2 4
High Definition (HD) No Yes Yes
Ultra High Definition (UHD) No No Yes
Price $8.99 $14.99 $18.99

Revenue

Netflix Q3 Revenue [94]

The main source of revenue comes from a large number of accumulated subscribers. The other way Netflix generates revenue is through the DVD-by-mail rental service but the amount of subscribers has been decreasing for the past three years.[95] The number of subscribers have been increasing each year since 2007 and Netflix accumulated 100 million subscribers before the end of 2017. It took Netflix ten years to accumulate their first 100 million subscribers but only three years to gain another 100 million subscribers.

There are four major regions for streaming revenue: US&CAN, Europe/Middle East/Africa, Latin America, Asia-Pacific. There is growth in subscribers all around the world. The US/CAN region’s revenue grew by 11.9% in Q3 of 2020. This region makes up 46% of Netflix's streaming revenue. The Europe/Middle East/Africa region’s revenue grew by 41.4% in Q3 of 2020 and this region makes up 32% of the company’s streaming revenue. The Latin America region’s revenue grew by 6.5% in Q3 of 2020. This region makes up 12% of total streaming revenue. The Asia-Pacific region grew the most but is currently also the smallest region. In Q3 of 2020, this region grew 66.1 but makes up only 10% of the total streaming revenue for Netflix.[95]

Disney+

Disney+[96]

Disney+ is a subscription video-on-demand streaming service that is owned by the Media and entertainment distribution division of the Walt Disney Company. Disney+ launched in November 2019 and on the first day of service, they accumulated ten million subscribers. With over 500 movies and 7500 Disney television shows available for streaming, their biggest appeal is Disney’s ability to provide throwback Disney shows that were originally aired on cable TV.[97] Their library of content has five main categories: Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and National Geographic.

The Subscription Model

The plans' prices vary depending on the country but these prices are the US prices for Disney+. All Disney+ subscribers can run four streams at once and watch in Ultra HD if your device supports it.[98]

Subscription Type Disney+ Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN+
Monthly Price $8.99 $12.99
Annual Price $89.99 N/A

The Growth of Disney+

Disney+ Growth[99]

Disney+ was available initially in the US, Canada, and the Netherlands. One week later, they launched in Australia and New Zealand. Anticipation levels were certainly high as Disney+ was the top trending Google search term in the US in 2019. The Mandalorian helped Disney+ get off to a fast start as it was the world’s most in-demand show for a time. Disney was able to grow its subscriber count to 50 million by April 2020. Initially, Disney projected to have 60-90 million subscribers by 2024 but they grew subscribers to 73.7 million by Sept 30.[98]


Although Disney provides a much smaller content library than rivals like Netflix or Amazon, Disney’s strength lies in quality over quantity. They plan on expanding this library as they anticipate to spend approximately one billion dollars on developing content for consumers in 2020 and to increase to 2.4 billion dollars by 2024.[98] As Disney continues to grow its library of content, we can expect it to attract more subscribers.

COVID-19 Impact on Netflix and Disney+

Netflix Growth[100]

While COVID-19 may have negatively impacted many industries worldwide, it has accelerated the growth of the streaming industry. Starting in 2007, it took Netflix seven years to reach 50 million subscribers but Disney reached that in just five months. Although covid might not have a direct effect on the subscribers, it does play a role in accelerating growth as more time at home means more streaming from consumers. Netflix doubled its numbers of expected new subscribers as more people have signed up since the pandemic whereas Disney+ added 22 million subscribers as well.[101] One aspect that separates each streaming service is the ability to provide original content on its platform. Due to COVID-19, the production on all movie and television content has been shut down and there is no date set for work to resume.[98] This could become a problem as streaming services look to create original content to gain an advantage over competitors.

Careers in Content Monetization

The internet has opened up a path for content creators to monetize their work but it has also created job opportunities for individuals with different backgrounds. This section is going to highlight some jobs created relating to the functional business areas.

Content Accountant

Netflix is looking to hire a content accountant. This is a job opportunity that requires a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance with three years of accounting experience. The content accountant is responsible for accurate financial reporting of every dollar spent on content. The licensing fees are an asset on Netflix’s financial statements so the content accountant would need to monitor the value and capitalization of these assets. They also account for the owned content and work with business partners to understand the full cost of each produced show.[102]

Creator Content Strategist

Youtube is looking to hire a Creator content strategist. This job opportunity requires someone with a bachelor’s degree and five years of experience with online video audience development. The creator content strategist at Youtube is responsible for identifying content and performance trends across Youtube among specific creator partner groups. They need to analyze and interpret data, define viewership patterns and growth metrics, and deliver recommendations based on that data.[103]

Content Financial Planning and Analysis

Twitch is looking to hire someone for the position of content financial planning and analysis. This job opportunity requires a bachelor’s degree in finance or economics with six or more years of experience in financial planning and analysis. Successful candidates must also have SQL/Python experience. The Content financial planning and analysis team leads for Twitch’s content acquisition deal modeling and analysis ensuring accurate reporting, budgeting, and strategic planning. They oversee the financial model for Twitch’s creator base, work with advertising, and other revenue partners.[104]

Chief Product Officer

Neil Mohan is currently the Chief product officer at Youtube. He is responsible for youtube products and user experience on all platforms and devices globally.[105] His job is said to be an impossible job, as Youtube is the world’s largest video site with two billion users. There are 500 hours of video uploaded a minute, every single minute. How do you police all these videos and keep the worst stuff off -like videos that exploit children, promote extremism, or push hate speech. How do you keep these off the site while keeping Youtube an open platform? This is the job that Neil Mohan has as the Chief product officer. They use a combination of software and humans to help flag offensive content but these humans and computers need a set of guidelines to follow. Neil Mohan is constantly working on updating these guidelines so others can follow these guidelines and effectively “police” Youtube. [106]

Issues

Environmental Concerns

Consumers often believe streaming non-linear entertainment is more environmentally friendly than physical formats previously used. Unfortunately, this appears to be a false belief. According to a 2019 study from the University of Glasgow, greenhouse gasses emitted from operating streaming music services in the US was between 200-350 million kilograms.[107] This would come from necessary resources such as electricity needed to operate data centers required for music streaming. This is significantly larger than the CD era, which was the peak of physical music’s pollution at 157 million kilograms of greenhouse gasses.[107] With video files being larger and more complex than audio, it is reasonable to extrapolate greenhouse gas emissions would be equally as bad or worse than music streaming. This ultimately illustrates a hidden cost not embraced by the increasingly prominent streaming media companies, which creates ethical tension through their operations.

Biased Content

Biased content refers to the influence of media on people’s opinions, perspectives, and understandings.[108] Since content seen by individual social media users is influenced by algorithms, users of social media and streaming platforms are more susceptible to biased content and information. Being in our own filter bubbles can be restrictive in the sense that individuals are more often than not exposed to biased and misleading information. Further, it becomes worse if individuals are not consciously aware of the biases that could be present. Arguably the best example is that of news networks and channels. The way they write, report, and react to news can influence our opinions making us vulnerable to confirmation bias.

Piracy

Streaming of unlicensed movies, TV, and sporting events is not illegal. However, this is a technicality in the law. The start of the conversation of whether streaming of unlicensed movies is illegal usually begins with the Copyright Act granting copyright holders exclusive rights to make copies of their work, distribute it, and perform it publicly. Watching a stream technically does not violate this Act. However, it is illegal to download unlicensed content without permission or in other words, pirate content.[109] Under copyright law, downloading unlicensed content is always illegal and explicitly breaks the law.

Implications

Media

In today’s digitally connected world, one of the most effective ways to reach an audience on a massive scale is to live stream. This may be in the form of sporting events, gaming events, and even product launches. This can also be done across different forms of digital mediums such as laptops, smartphones, smart TVs, among others. Media is affected in such a way that traditional media has been overtaken by traditional forms of media. Traditional media include newspapers, magazines, billboards, among other devices that existed prior to the rise of the internet. Digital media include everything seen online such as online advertisements, streaming services, websites among others[110]. With the increasing number of smartphones and access to the internet, it is no surprise that digital media has become a popular choice for people to read the news, stream movies and watch live events.

Scene from Letterkenny[111]

Entertainment

As technology has continued to become more widespread and powerful, this has been a major enabler for content creators to share their message. Ultimately, in combination with the internet, linear and non-linear entertainment has been dramatically revolutionized. This has made it no longer necessary for individuals to follow the typical hierarchy previously required to be in mainstream entertainment. An example of this can be seen with the TV show “Letterkenny”. Letterkenny began as a Twitter account highlighting the nuances of living in small-town Canada, which was ultimately transformed into a video series on YouTube; with some videos receiving millions of views.[112] The video series transformed once again and became an original program for Bell Media’s Crave streaming service. Since then, the show has moved on to live performances,[113] and is now a Hulu exclusive in the US.[114] Letterkenny’s path to wide distribution exhibits several of the changes that have occurred in popular entertainment, particularly surrounding the popularization of internet platforms.

Business

Streaming technology has brought about many opportunities and improvements in the business sector. Some impacts of live streaming to businesses include building communities, increasing monetary savings, strengthening social media presence, and wider reach to all audiences. But arguably one of the most important advantages of streaming technology is that of video conferencing. Because of video conferencing, teams can be formed across the world and effectively work and communicate with one another. In this time of the pandemic, video conferencing has become a rather popular method of communication for businesses. Platforms like Zoom, Cisco Webex, and Microsoft Teams have become integral parts of business communication and activities. Video conferencing does not necessarily have to be simply for internal purposes of companies like that of communication.[115] As an added benefit, on these video conferencing platforms, it is possible to record meetings making it easier to revisit or re-listen to them at a later point in time. Moreover, businesses can also stream content such as product releases. This allows companies to build their brands and put themselves in front of a wide audience. One example is Apple’s WWDC20 conference. As a result of the pandemic, Apple decided to hold its annual conference online where it released new products and opportunities for the company.[116]

Education

The popularity of streaming educational material online both linearly and nonlinearly has been growing over the past years. There are platforms dedicated to education like Masterclass offer nonlinear classes where a successful professional in their respective fields teach lessons. Another platform for education is that of YouTube. While YouTube is not mainly directed directly towards the field of education, it is possible to stream or view educational material on the platform. Many students use YouTube to learn and understand difficult concepts. The variety of videos on YouTube offers students a variety of ways in which they can choose how to learn the material. This style of learning on YouTube has become an incredibly popular learning platform among Generation Z students.[117] On the other hand, linear forms of education have gained a huge amount of popularity during the time of this pandemic. With classes shifting online, students attend lectures online and some even take proctored exams online. Video conferencing platforms play a large role in being able to deliver lectures in a linear format and allowing teachers and professors to continue to impart knowledge to students and aspiring professionals.

Summary

Content creation monetization is an expansive journey that has occurred over centuries. With each technological revolution, content creation and consumption becomes increasingly accessible. This is incredibly relevant in the internet era, where entertainment is able to reach audiences that were previously impossible. Concurrently, this is the major contributor to lucrative monetization opportunities now available for creators. While there are issues and externalities that need to be considered, they are minor compared to the benefits developed through advancements in content creation monetization.

Authors

Domenik Adamoski Adrian Chua Joven Toor Gary Zhou
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada

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