As Susan mentioned in her April Creator Letter, we’re making it easier for creators to understand and remove manually claimed content in their videos. We’ve heard from creators that the recent uptick of manual claims, especially for short segments, has led to some confusion, as the claims sometimes lack key information that can help to resolve the issue. While it’s important that creators understand and respect copyright, it’s also important that they have knowledge of who is claiming content in their videos, where it appears, and what they can do about it. Starting today, we will require copyright owners to provide timestamps to indicate exactly where their content appears in videos they manually claim, and we’re improving our video editing tools in Creator Studio to make it easier for creators to remove the content associated with these claims.
Manual Claiming is a tool within Content ID that allows select copyright owners to manually make claims on videos that were not automatically made by our Content ID matching system. Previously, we did not require copyright owners using the Manual Claiming tool to provide timestamps, so it was sometimes unclear to creators which parts of their videos were being claimed and in addition, unlike edits that removed content identified by automated claims, the claims wouldn’t be automatically released.
We’re making the experience better for you in two important ways:
1. Copyright owners must now provide timestamps for exactly what part of your video is being manually claimed.
Just as you would if you receive an automatic claim from our Content ID matching system, you’ll now see timestamps in Creator Studio when you get a manual claim. Check out the Video Copyright Info page in YouTube Studio that offers a visualization of where the manually-claimed content appears in your video, and also, it provides more info about the content being claimed. We’ll be evaluating the accuracy of these timestamps. Copyright owners who repeatedly fail to provide accurate data will have their access to manual claiming revoked.
2. You can use our editing tools to remove the content claimed manually in your video which will now automatically release the claims.
We’ve updated our editing tools to make it easier to remove manually claimed content from your video. If you choose to remove the content, the claim will now be released automatically. Below are some of the options you have without having to edit and upload a new video:
Mute all sound when the claimed song plays: If you get a claim for a piece of music in your video, you can now mute the time-stamped segment.
Replace the song: If you don’t want to mute the audio entirely, you can instead swap out the music with one of our free-to-use songs from the YouTube Audio Library. We also added new visual indicators below the video player, which show exactly what segment of the video is claimed. This can help you position the audio track in such a way that will remove the claims from your video.
Trim out the content: You also have the option to cut out the time-stamped segment from your video using the Trim feature in the YouTube Editor.
We’re still working on several improvements here, like having an explicit Trim option in the Video Copyright Info page that will allow you to trim out the claimed content with just one click. You can learn more about these changes in our Help Center.
Remember, if you receive a claim that you believe is incorrect, you have the right to dispute it. You know the most about the content in your videos and whether it was used appropriately, so we built the dispute process to empower you to escalate any problems to the copyright owner, and even as far as the courts, if you choose. If both you and the person claiming your video are attempting to monetize it, we will continue to show ads on the video during the dispute process and make sure the appropriate party gets the revenue once the dispute is resolved.
Our work won’t stop here. We’re always looking to find ways to improve the creator copyright experience while also balancing the rights of copyright owners. Stay tuned for more to come.
YouTube is where people go to experience VR videos. With over one million VR videos and experiences, YouTube VR offers a diverse library of immersive content for everyone to enjoy and explore the world from a new perspective.
But to make VR for everyone, we have to continue breaking down barriers on how people create and watch VR content on YouTube. To do this, we’re focused on offering YouTube VR on even more platforms, celebrating award-winning VR content and improving creator education programs.
Offering YouTube VR on even more platforms
Since the initial launch of the YouTube VR app in November 2016, we’ve been focused on bringing the app to as many people with a VR headset as possible. It’s already available on Daydream View, HTC Vive, Playstation VR, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Go and Oculus Rift. And when Oculus Quest becomes available on Tuesday, May 21, the YouTube VR app will be available as a launch title.
Celebrating award-winning VR content on YouTube
VR allows creators to transport their audiences to new, amazing and even impossible places. We’ve partnered with creators to bring immersive experiences to YouTube. And, over the last six months, these VR videos have been recognized with a number of standout awards, including Emmy®, Webby and Streamy awards.
Baobab Studios recently nabbed multiple Emmy® awards for the animated short film, “Crow: The Legend VR.” With a star-studded cast — including John Legend, Oprah, Liza Koshy and Constance Wu — this immersive short film is animated VR content at its best.
“Isle of Dogs: Behind the Scenes (in Virtual Reality)” won two Webby Awards and the Clio Entertainment Gold award. The immersive video takes the audience behind-the-scenes of the film, featuring on-set interviews with the cast and an inside look at the unique craft of stop-motion animation.
Improving creator education through the YouTube VR Creator Lab
As part of our efforts to continue democratizing VR content creation, we’re currently accepting applications for the European edition of the YouTube VR Creator Lab. This three-month, learning and production intensive helps creators embrace YouTube’s VR180 format.
Selected participants get to attend a three-day boot camp at a YouTube Space and receive advanced education from leading VR instructors and filmmakers, ongoing mentoring, a shiny VR180 camera to keep, and $20,000 USD in funding toward the production of their dream projects.
Since the program launched in 2017, we’ve hosted six YouTube VR Creator Labs with over 60 creators across the globe in Los Angeles, London and Tokyo. Participants have gone on to win Emmy and Streamy awards for their VR content created during the lab.
Over the past couple days, we hosted our fifth annual North American Creator Summit, where we brought together over a hundred of our most influential creators and artists for inspirational conversations. It was candid, it was fun, and there was a lot of latte art. From burning questions posed to YouTube Leadership to meaningful discussions with peers, the creators and artists who joined us fostered a special kind of community this year. There was energy and excitement in the air that was palpable and spirited, which gave the rollerskating extravaganza extra pizzazz.
We caught up with a few creators right after Susan Wojcicki (CEO), Neal Mohan (CPO) and Robert Kyncl (CBO) spoke about how creators and artists are the very heart of YouTube.
“The Internet’s always going to be asking for more, but hearing them talk about it in person — their steps and plans, what they’re planning to do to fix it, and how many people are part of the team to work on very specific issue — it’s comforting to hear them say that and know that they’re on our side,” said Lily Hevesh, the domino artist behind Hevesh5.
Interviews have been condensed for clarity.
Sam Tsui performing at Creator Summit (Photo by Alexander Stein)
Sam Tsui is a singer-songwriter who’s been on YouTube since August 2011. YouTube: Favorite part so far? Sam Tsui: It’s incredible to have the face-to-face with YouTube, with Susan [Wojcicki], and all the people who make this platform possible. There’s a lot to learn and a lot to know. … It’s always so amazing that YouTube wants us to come out and hear what we think, give us a heads up on what’s coming and all that good stuff. … Between that and all the fun activities, it’s totally amazing, overwhelming, and a ton of fun. YouTube: Key takeaway after hearing Susan, Neal and Robert on stage? Sam Tsui: [It’s] wonderful to hear how healthy the platform is. The statistics about the number of creators who have over one million subs is growing, and the engagement, and the fact that this is, as ever, the place for the kind of stuff you want to be doing.
Natalie and Dennis got married in December 2017 after six years of dating. Natalie also has her own separate channel called Natalies Outlet. YouTube: Favorite part so far? Natalie: It’s such an honor to be in a room full of some of the most powerful people on the Internet. Especially having the speakers come in and talk to you so genuinely, and without a third wall and so real. Sometimes I think we get caught up in the business of YouTube, and it all comes down to the passion. Dennis: The hospitality is always so nice. We always have packages when we arrive. We feel cared for. YouTube: Key takeaway after hearing Susan, Neal and Robert on stage? Natalie: Sometimes you don’t really see what they’re doing behind-the-scenes. You just think, “Oh, they represent YouTube.” But they really did show that they’re working on policies. They’re working on making sure as creators, we’re continuing to monetize. It’s nice to see that they’re so caring and they answered real questions, even though [the questions are] kind of hot sometimes.
Hyunee’s mukbang channel has 1.2 million subscribers, and this is her first year at Creator Summit.
YouTube: Key takeaway after hearing Susan, Neal and Robert on stage? Hyunee Eats: We complain a lot about the faults that they have, but knowing that they’re working hard to improve everything and actually seeing them talk to us in person has helped us learn about what they actually do behind-the-scenes. ... They’re like real people, like us.
Lily Hevesh has been making domino art videos since 2009. This is also her first Creator Summit!
YouTube: Favorite part so far? Lily Hevesh: I don’t really get the opportunity to meet other people who make videos for a living, so bringing all the top creators in one room is super exciting. YouTube: Key takeaway after hearing Susan, Neal and Robert on stage? Lily Hevesh: Just seeing them in person and hearing them speak — to me, it felt like they really do deeply care about the creators, fans and advertisers. And they’re trying their best to please all of them. While there are lots of issues with the site, they’re working as hard as they can to try and solve them.
Remi Cruz is a 23-year-old lifestyle and wellness creator with 2.5 million subscribers.
YouTube: Favorite part so far? MissRemiAshten: We’re only on day one, and this has been my favorite one, for sure. Getting to see Julie Rice, the co-founder of SoulCycle, and getting to see her interact with Blogilates, who’s one of my favorite YouTubers and one of my really good friends. I feel like they’re two people I look up to so much, and I live by Soulcycle so I genuinely feel like they tailored a lot of stuff to our interests today. YouTube: Key takeaway after hearing Susan, Neal and Robert on stage? MissRemiAshten: There are so many things that go on behind the scenes that I don’t even know about. So it’s interesting to hear that. … It’s nice that YouTube has this whole conference for us in general, because no other platform does it.
It’s hard to believe it’s only April given all that we’ve already witnessed this year. We’ve seen new creative peaks reached by our global creator community, showing even further that you are the heart of YouTube. But we’ve also faced incredible challenges. And given the scale and impact of YouTube, there’s nothing more important than managing our role as a platform responsibly.
All illustrations by Jing Wei
1. Living up to our responsibility
My top priority is responsibility. We’re always balancing maintaining an open platform with managing our community guidelines. But to combat a number of concerning incidents we’ve seen in the last few months, we’ve had to take more aggressive action.
In February, we announced the suspension of comments on most YouTube videos that feature minors. We did this to protect children from predatory comments (with the exception of a small number of channels that have the manpower needed to actively moderate their comments and take additional steps to protect children). We know how vital comments are to creators. I hear from creators every day how meaningful comments are for engaging with fans, getting feedback, and helping guide future videos. I also know this change impacted so many creators who we know are innocent—from professional creators to young people or their parents who are posting videos. But in the end, that was a trade-off we made because we feel protecting children on our platform should be the most important guiding principle.
The following month, we took unprecedented action in the wake of the Christchurch tragedy. Our teams immediately sprung into action to remove the violative content. To counter the enormous volume of uploaded videos showing violent imagery, we chose to temporarily break some of our processes and features. That meant a number of videos that didn’t actually violate community guidelines, including a small set of news and commentary, were swept up and kept off the platform (until appealed by its owners and reinstated). But given the stakes, it was another trade-off that we felt was necessary. And with the devastating Sri Lankan attacks, our teams worked around the clock to make sure we removed violative content. In both cases, our systems triggered authoritative news and limited the spread of any hate and misinformation.
These issues have also been top-of-mind for policy-makers, press, brands, and advertisers, whom I met with on recent trips to Washington and Asia. I updated them all on the steps we’ve taken around responsibility and also praised the extraordinary talents and importance of our creator economy. You’ve helped drive a remarkable transformation in the media landscape—where we’ve gone from a handful of broadcast networks to millions of channels that connect deeply with each and every person. Your videos not only touch lives, but have created new jobs and the next generation of media companies.
The feedback I heard from these discussions was especially important. A top issue was wanting more clarity around community guidelines and advertiser friendly policies so there’s more predictability on monetization and our recommendation system. They’re also looking for better representation of creators on trending. They’re frustrated with copyright claims that are less than 10 seconds or incidental. And they say the online harassment from fellow creators is growing and needs to be addressed.
I’d like to address these issues one by one. First, we plan to add more detail to our policies so that creators can make the best decisions on their content. Our Self Certification pilot is a great example of why this is so crucial. With this program, creators can self report how their video complies with ad policies and build up trust that our systems adjust to. This helps creators gain a better understanding of our guidelines and delivers clearer results for them and for advertisers. We’ve rolled out this pilot to over one thousand channels and I’m hopeful we will find a way to make it available to more monetizing channels. And on monetization, we’ll continue to focus on increasing the accuracy of the classifiers representing the advertising friendly guidelines, something we know is important for all creators. Since January, we’ve already improved the precision of the classifier by 25%.
On the trending tab, we’ve heard it doesn’t seem to reflect what people are watching on the platform and that too many of the same creators show up time and time again. One thing to keep in mind is that trending is meant to show content that a wide range of viewers would find interesting. So we’re especially careful about the safety of these videos and we ensure they don’t contain profanity or mature content. Eligible videos are then ranked based on a calculation of their “temperature”—how quickly that video is generating views. But we want to better showcase our creators. Going forward, our goal is to have at least half the videos on trending come from YouTubers (with the remainder coming from music and traditional media), something we’re close to already but will expand on. We also plan to make sure this is a diverse set of creators. And we’ll continue to ramp up our Creator on the Rise and Gaming Creator on the Rise initiatives.
We also heard firsthand that our Manual Claiming system was increasingly being used to claim very short (in some cases one second) content or incidental content like when a creator walks past a store playing a few seconds of music. We were already looking into this issue but hearing this directly from creators was vital. We are exploring improvements in striking the right balance between copyright owners and creators.
Finally, I take it very seriously when creators share stories of experiencing harassment on the platform. While criticism from fellow creators can be constructive, any threats or doxing crosses the line. Such behavior is already prohibited by our policies. But stay tuned as we will do more to discourage this from happening on the platform.
To help more creators find their audience, we’ve been ramping up our NextUp creator camps, with recent editions in Jakarta and London. And we’re seeing exciting momentum for YouTube around the world, not just for creators but also artists.
With the launch of YouTube Music in India, Japan, and Argentina, we’ve witnessed musical artists big and small reach new audiences internationally, and the free, ad-supported streaming app is now available in 43 countries, with more to come.
But we are also still very concerned about Article 13 (now renamed Article 17) — a part of the Copyright directive that recently passed in the E.U. While we support the rights of copyright holders—YouTube has deals with almost all the music companies and TV broadcasters today—we are concerned about the vague, untested requirements of the new directive. It could create serious limitations for what YouTube creators can upload. This risks lowering the revenue to traditional media and music companies from YouTube and potentially devastating the many European creators who have built their businesses on YouTube.
While the Directive has passed, there is still time to affect the final implementation to avoid some of the worst unintended consequences. Each E.U. member state now has two years to introduce national laws that are in line with the new rules, which means that the powerful collective voice of creators can still make a major impact.
We must continue to stand up and speak out for open creativity. Your actions have already led to the most popular Change.org petition in history and encouraged people to reach across borders. This is not the end of our movement but only the beginning.
3. Improving communication and engagement
Personally, and as a company, we are committed to listening to your feedback and concerns. Just like last year, we’ll be making a big push to meet creators where they want to communicate— through social, video, and one-on-one sessions. I plan on sitting down with more creators in 2019, focusing on the issues that are most important to you. Let me know who you’d like to see me meet with - I’m open to suggestions!
Hopefully, most of you have tried out YouTube Studio Beta, which we’ve built to give creators even more updates and news. It offers a Known Issues bulletin on the dashboard that lists outages, bugs, or issues going on with YouTube, and a new Analytics experience with long-requested metrics like impressions, thumbnail click-through rates, and unique viewers. We've also recently improved our support of InfoCards and EndScreens in the new Studio, as well as Comparisons in Analytics. Your feedback has been crucial to these improvements, and more real-time data is coming soon.
Since so many creators have told us that the community guidelines strike system felt inconsistent and confusing, we updated our policies to a simpler and more transparent system. Every creator now gets a one-time warning that allows them to learn about our policies before they face penalties on their channel. Each strike, no matter if it comes from the videos, thumbnails, or links, gets the same penalty. On top of adding new mobile and in-product notifications about a strike, our email and desktop notifications will provide more details on which policy was violated.
Like all of you, YouTube is continually adapting to keep up with a fast-changing world. But the one thing that won’t change is the fact that our past, present, and future success starts with our creators. Many of you have been with us since our early days, and have built YouTube into the vibrant community it is today. And that’s why we’re focused on supporting your growing businesses, both through improving responsibility on the platform and by creating more opportunities for you to engage and build audiences.
Being a creator can be rewarding, exhilarating, challenging, and exhausting all at once. But the hard work is worth it. You’re at the cutting edge of culture.Your stories are helping the world to connect and learn. Please continue to share your voice and your feedback with us—it helps us make our platform stronger.
We know that many of you have been closely following the actions we’re taking to protect young people on YouTube and are as deeply concerned as we are that we get this right. We want to update you on some additional changes we’re making, particularly in regards to comments, building on the efforts we shared last week.
We recognize that comments are a core part of the YouTube experience and how you connect with and grow your audience. At the same time, the important steps we’re sharing today are critical for keeping young people safe. Thank you for your understanding and feedback as we continue our work to protect the YouTube community.
Below is a summary of the main steps we’ve taken to improve child safety on YouTube since our update last Friday:
Disabling comments on videos featuring minors
Over the past week, we disabled comments from tens of millions of videos that could be subject to predatory behavior. These efforts are focused on videos featuring young minors and we will continue to identify videos at risk over the next few months. Over the next few months, we will be broadening this action to suspend comments on videos featuring young minors and videos featuring older minors that could be at risk of attracting predatory behavior.
A small number of creators will be able to keep comments enabled on these types of videos. These channels will be required to actively moderate their comments, beyond just using our moderation tools, and demonstrate a low risk of predatory behavior. We will work with them directly and our goal is to grow this number over time as our ability to catch violative comments continues to improve.
Launching a new comments classifier
While we have been removing hundreds of millions of comments for violating our policies, we had been working on an even more effective classifier, that will identify and remove predatory comments. This classifier does not affect the monetization of your video. We accelerated its launch and now have a new comments classifier in place that is more sweeping in scope, and will detect and remove 2X more individual comments.
Taking action on creators who cause egregious harm to the community
No form of content that endangers minors is acceptable on YouTube, which is why we have terminated certain channels that attempt to endanger children in any way. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges targeting any audience are also clearly against our policies. We will continue to take action when creators violate our policies in ways that blatantly harm the broader user and creator community. Please continue to flag these to us.
Thank you for your understanding as we make these changes,
We’re updating the way we give Community Guidelines strikes to a new, simpler system. We’ve worked with creators to understand what’s working and what’s not, and you told us that consistent enforcement, clear policies, and transparency about the impact of a strike are most important. So we’re introducing more opportunities for everyone to understand our policies, a consistent penalty for each strike, and better notifications.
More opportunities to learn YouTube’s policies
Although 98% of you never break our Community Guidelines, they are vital to making YouTube a strong community and balancing freedom of expression with the freedom to belong. That’s why—from our earliest days—we’ve relied on a three-strikes system and email notices to give everyone a chance to review and understand what went wrong before they face more severe consequences. And it works: 94% of those who do receive a first strike never get a second one.
We want to give you even more opportunities to learn about our policies, so starting February 25, all channels will receive a one-time warning the first time they post content that crosses the line, with no penalties to their channel except for the removal of that content. This is to make sure everyone takes the time to learn about our Community Guidelines, and then can quickly get back to creating great content and engaging with their audience in a way that complies with our rules.
Along with this new warning, we are also expanding the policy resources available in our help center to give more detail about what behavior will result in a strike. This includes new, detailed examples of the kind of content we commonly see that breaks our rules.
Consistent strikes across all of YouTube
We’re also making the penalty for violating our Community Guidelines the same wherever it happens. While most strikes result from videos, our Community Guidelines cover all content on YouTube, including stories, custom thumbnails, or links to other websites included in a video’s description or infocard.
Previously, not all strikes had the same penalty on your channel. For example, first strikes on videos would trigger a 90-day freeze on live streaming, and second strikes would result in a two-week freeze on new video uploads. We heard from many of you that this was confusing and the penalty didn’t match the source of the strike. Now, based on your feedback, all Community Guidelines strikes will have the same penalty:
As mentioned, everyone who uploads content to YouTube will now receive a warning the first time their content crosses the line. Although the content will be removed, there will be no other penalty on the channel. There will be only one warning and unlike strikes, the warning will not reset after 90 days.
The first strike will result in a one-week freeze on the ability to upload any new content to YouTube, including live streaming, and other channel activities. Strikes will expire after 90 days.
The second strike in any 90-day period will result in a two-week freeze on the ability to upload any new content to YouTube.
The third strike in any 90-day period will result in channel termination.
Transparency about your channel status
Finally, we always want to make it clear why a strike occurred, what it means for your channel, and the next steps that are available—including appealing the decision in case you think it was a mistake. To that end, we’re making our email and desktop notifications clearer, and they will provide more details on which policy was violated. We are also adding new mobile and in-product notifications to make sure you have all the important information about a strike available at a glance.
These updates are part of our ongoing work to make sure that YouTube is the best place to listen, share, and create community through your stories. Our strikes system is an important way for us to help creators and artists understand when they’ve crossed the line by uploading content that undermines that goal, and your feedback has helped to make this system work better for the entire community. We’ll build on this and all the progress we’ve made over the last year by continuing to consult with you as we strengthen enforcement and update our policies. We want to make sure they're easy to understand and address the needs of the global YouTube community.
I’m excited to share some thoughts about 2019 and the year ahead, but first wanted to take a moment and reflect on what was an unprecedented 2018. While we experienced tremendous growth across the platform, it was also a time of some tough growing up.
First, some milestones that we hit: the channels with over one million subscribers nearly doubled in the last year, and the number of creators earning five or six figures in the last year grew more than 40%. You’re creating the next generation of media companies and we’re thrilled to see how much the YouTube creator economy is thriving.
Illustrations by Martina Paukova
But one record we definitely didn’t set out to break was the most disliked video on the Internet. Even at home, my kids told me our 2018 Rewind was “cringey.” We hear you that it didn’t accurately show the year’s key moments, nor did it reflect the YouTube you know. We’ll do better to tell our story in 2019.
Last year, we also saw how the bad actions of a few individuals can negatively impact the entire creator ecosystem, and that’s why we put even more focus on responsible growth. We implemented a number of product and policy changes, from information cards on common conspiracies and breaking news shelves from authoritative sources, to consequences for creators who bring harm to that crucial trust you’ve built up with users and advertisers.
This year, I have three priorities: 1) Supporting creator and artist success; 2) Improving communication and engagement; and 3) Living up to our responsibility. Read on for an update on each.
1. Supporting creator and artist success
We know how vital monetization is to creators, and recognize it remains a pain point for many of you. Just as a reminder, we started last year with many of our largest advertisers paused because of brand safety concerns. We worked incredibly hard to build the right systems and tools to make sure advertisers feel confident investing in YouTube, and most are now back. On the creator side, we’ve been improving our classifiers so that we make the right monetization decision for each video. We’ve increased the accuracy of the monetization icon by 40% and are also making it easier for creators to appeal when we make the wrong call. But there’s still more work to do on both of these fronts and we’re committed to getting it right for everyone.
We’ve also been building new ways for you to make money beyond advertising. We expanded YouTube Music and YouTube Premium and made both available in 29 countries, up from just five at the beginning of 2018. We’ve also added other solutions to help you diversify revenue, including Super Chat, Channel Memberships, Merchandise, and Ticketing. Last quarter, we opened up Merch shelf access to all eligible creators globally. We also continued to make channel memberships more broadly available, lowering the subscriber threshold from 100,000 to 30,000.
On the issue of Article 13: A big thank you to all the creators who helped bring attention to the unintended consequences of the proposal—one that threatens the livelihoods of so many creators in Europe and around the world— through your videos, stories, op-eds and shared ideas. You’ve proven to be an influential voice in the debate. Your videos were viewed hundreds of millions of times and a near-record 4.6 million people signed the petition at Change.org.
That awareness you created was critical, since it was clear to me last year when meeting with policymakers in Strasbourg that many of them had heard from large companies, but lacked an understanding of the European creator economy’s impact and size. I shared with legislators the huge economic benefit you all bring to your home countries. In France alone, we have more than 190 channels with more than 1 million subscriptions, with the number of E.U. channels reaching that milestone up 70% year over year.
The debate around Article 13 remains ongoing. This could be decided in the next few weeks, so please keep speaking out on this critical issue for all YouTube creators.
2. Improving communication and engagement
In 2018, we took steps to communicate better with you. We introduced YouTube Studio, a new home base which will be available to all creators this year, and are constantly adding new features to it. Some of the latest include Known Issues, News widgets, and new metrics like thumbnail click-through rates and Merch options.
Many of you told us you prefer hearing from us through social posts, so we set a goal to be more responsive through those channels. In the last year, we’ve increased our number of responses by 150% and made our response times 50% faster.
But we also love meeting you in person. In 2018, we held more than 480 events with over 18,000 creators—from Fanfests, to Creator Summits, to workshops. We even had the opportunity to sit down with some of you for your channels. If you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend Luisito’s chat with our chief product officer Neal Mohan. Watch this space, as we will invest even more in communication this year.
And it’s the engagement between creators and viewers that truly sets YouTube apart from traditional media like TV. Our goal is to grow this in new ways. One addition last year was the Premieres feature that allows creators to generate a shared experience with fans around new videos. Creators like Lele Pons and Emma Chamberlain used Premieres on their way to racking up millions of views. At its peak, Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” had 829,000 unique viewers watching and interacting simultaneously, making this video the biggest Premiere ever on YouTube. I’m sure we’ll see even more of these moments in 2019.
We also recently made Stories available to all eligible creators with more than 10,000 subscribers, and opened up Community posts to all channels with more than 1,000 subscribers. Billions of comments were made on YouTube in 2018, and for a better experience, we improved comment ranking, added @mentions in comments and introduced a feature where creators can hold inappropriate comments for review in 10 languages.
3. Living up to our responsibility
It is my personal mission to ensure that we're living up to our responsibilities to our users, as well as to you, the creator community. We made a lot of improvements here in 2018 but recognize there’s still much more to do.
First, more and more people are coming to YouTube for news. Not only have we made changes to ensure they’re having a good experience when they visit, but we’ve prioritized supporting the journalism community. One key effort is the Google News Initiative YouTube innovation funding program, announced last summer. Hundreds of organizations submitted proposals and we awarded grants to 87 recipients to help them build up their video capabilities. We also expanded our breaking news shelf and top news shelves to 31 countries and look forward to expanding them even further this year.
Another focus was on more quickly and effectively removing the content that violates our Community Guidelines, as shown in our report. But we know we need to more clearly communicate about the policies that impact you. Most recently we updated guidance to creators about our policies on custom thumbnails, external links, and pranks and challenges. And our Creator Insider channel covered how we address profanity. Look for more of these types of updates in the months to come.
A major highlight for me in 2018 was watching how creators used YouTube as a way to give back. More than 40 creators worked together last year to benefit eight charities with YouTube Giving, which included our first annual #YouTubeGiving Week program in November. YouTuber Matpat and Stephanie of The Game Theorists helped us kick it off with a special livestream and Matpat said it was “one of the highlights of [his] seven years YouTubing.”
Finally, we’ve seen the incredible momentum around learning and education on YouTube and we’re investing to support its growth. Last year, we introduced the Learning Fund and awarded grants to 65 creators chosen from more than 1,000 submissions. Recipients will be developing multi-session learning content for YouTube, so stay tuned for more details on when that will roll out.
Also, keep an eye out for our first EduCon of 2019, which is coming up in the U.K. in February. We hosted four EduCon conferences around the world in 2018, engaging with nearly 450 creators in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil and India.
Personally, I depended on the learning content more times than I can count. With YouTube’s incredibly busy year, I turned to the platform for some of my workouts and have a lot of appreciation for the yoga YouTubers. The work of all educational creators has brought incredible enrichment to so many lives in so many ways.
All in all, 2018 was a year of change, challenges, and opportunity. This year will undoubtedly be more of the same. Keep the feedback coming—even though sometimes it’s hard to read—it’s your questions and comments that help make YouTube the very best video community for all of us. The creator community is what inspires me daily and makes this platform so special...so thank you again.
As a creator, you're always looking to strengthen your relationship with your audience. You bring them along on your travels, give them a backstage pass to one of your videos, or even a sneak peek at your upcoming video. Through testing the Stories format with a small group of you over the past year, we’ve seen you do just that, from FashionbyAlly giving updates on what’s coming next, to Colin and Samir bringing their fans into the creative process. We applied feedback that we got from you to build a product specifically designed with you, the YouTube creator, in mind. And starting today, we are excited to announce that we are rolling out YouTube Stories to all eligible creators with 10K+ subscribers.
Creating with Stories is lightweight, easy, and fun. Stories will have the fun creation tools that you know and love. You can add text, music, filters, YouTubey stickers, and more to make your story uniquely you! To create a story, just open the YouTube mobile app, tap on the video camera icon, and select "Create Story."
We’ve also added comments to Stories, so the entire community can be a part of the conversation. Your fans can comment, thumbs up and thumbs down comments, and you can heart comments. And all of the comment moderation tools that are available on video uploads will also be available on Stories. You can now also respond directly to a fan comment with a photo or video for the entire community to see!
Once posted, Stories are available in the mobile app for 7 days to ensure that your fans have a chance to see it. Stories may show up to both subscribers on the Subscriptions tab and non-subscribers on Home and in the Up Next list below videos.
We’re excited to see how you continue to use Stories to reach out to your community. Give it a try today!
We’ve heard that you want to make and see even more immersive videos on YouTube. That’s why we’re continuing to expand the ways anyone can create and watch VR content.
More ways to watch YouTube VR
With all the great content that’s available on YouTube today, we want to continue our effort to bring the YouTube VR app to everyone with a VR headset. Starting today, the app will be available on Oculus Go headsets via the Oculus Store.
Making it easier to create VR180 content
Last year we introduced VR180, a new video format that focuses on what’s in front of the camera while delivering a 3D effect in a VR headset. By focusing only on the 180-degree view of what’s in front of the camera, it made VR video production easier for creators like you, encouraging more VR videos than ever before.
Since then we’ve introduced new tools to make this type of video creation even easier. We launched the VR180 Creator Tool that makes it faster to process footage, add metadata and publish. The tool is available on MacOS, Linux and now on Windows.
With the latest editing tools from Adobe, it’s also significantly easier for you to edit, add effects and publish your content. And with new VR180 capable cameras from Kandao and Vuze, you now have more options for capturing VR180 to complement cameras from Z-Cam and Lenovo.
Creating more immersive VR videos
Spatial audio can help make haunted houses more scary and imaginary video game worlds more real. That’s because it matches realistic sounds and picture together for a more immersive experience. We’ve recently added support for head-locked audio, which means that you can add narration and background music that will sound the same no matter where you look.
VR videos unlock a world of experiences. With new and easier ways to create and watch VR content, we look forward to seeing what stories you tell, locations you transport viewers to and experiences you uncover.
This op-ed originally appeared in the Financial Times. Creativity has long been a guiding force in my life, which is why I jumped at the opportunity to be YouTube’s chief executive nearly five years ago.
Creators have used YouTube to share their voices, inspire their fans, and build their livelihoods. Kurzgesagt — In a Nutshell recently became the number one channel in Germany by creating videos that help others fall in love with science. Artists like Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran reached fans on YouTube long before they were discovered by a label. And acclaimed musicians like Elton John have used our site to breathe new life into iconic songs.
We have worked hard to ensure creators and artists are fairly compensated for their work. In the last year, YouTube paid content owners across the EU €800m. We have also paid the global music industry more than €1.5bn from advert-generated revenue alone.
However, this creator economy is under threat from a section of the EU’s efforts to revise its copyright directive, known as article 13, which holds internet companies directly responsible for any copyright infringement in the content shared on their platform.
While we support the goals of article 13, the European Parliament’s current proposal will create unintended consequences that will have a profound impact on the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people.
The parliament’s approach is unrealistic in many cases because copyright owners often disagree over who owns what rights. If the owners cannot agree, it is impossible to expect the open platforms that host this content to make the correct rights decisions.
Take the global music hit “Despacito”. This video contains multiple copyrights, ranging from sound recording to publishing rights. Although YouTube has agreements with multiple entities to license and pay for the video, some of the rights holders remain unknown. That uncertainty means we might have to block videos like this to avoid liability under article 13. Multiply that risk with the scale of YouTube, where more than 400 hours of video are uploaded every minute, and the potential liabilities could be so large that no company could take on such a financial risk.
We have already taken steps to address copyright infringement by developing technology, like our Content ID programme, to help rights holders manage their copyrights and earn money automatically. More than 98 per cent of copyright management on YouTube takes place through Content ID. To date, we have used the system to pay rights holders more than €2.5bn for third party use of their content. We believe Content ID provides the best solution for managing rights on a global scale.
The consequences of article 13 go beyond financial losses. EU residents are at risk of being cut off from videos that, in just the last month, they viewed more than 90bn times. Those videos come from around the world, including more than 35m EU channels, and they include language classes and science tutorials as well as music videos.
We welcome the chance to work with policymakers and the industry to develop a solution within article 13 that protects rights holders while also allowing the creative economy to thrive. This could include more comprehensive licensing agreements, collaboration with rights holders to identify who owns what, and smart rights management technology, similar to Content ID.
Platforms that follow these rules, and make a good effort to help rights holders identify their content, shouldn’t be held directly liable for every single piece of content that a user uploads. We ask policymakers to find a solution that protects rights holders and creators alike, and listen to the growing number of EU voices, including some member countries, who agree there’s a better way forward.