YouTube has announced a bundle of new tools for creators, including the ability to combine live streaming with pre-recorded video.
The new tool, called Premieres, means creators can multitask during broadcasts – answering live questions while playing a recorded clip, for example. Premieres will roll out over the next two weeks, starting with users in its beta testing program.
The site is also launching channel memberships as a way for creators to earn extra cash from their clips. Viewers can sponsor their favorite channels for a monthly fee of US$4.99 (about £4, AU$7). In return, they'll receive custom emoji and badges, plus the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from supporting the content they enjoy.
There are new merchandise opportunities as well. Creators with over 100,000 subscribers can design goodies like T-shirts and mugs on Teespring and have them advertized on a virtual shelf under their videos. Many YouTube stars already supplement their income with merch sales, but until now they've had to direct their fans to a storefront on a different site.
The site is clearly keen to show that it's taking content seriously – and for good reason. The site has faced fierce criticism this year for unsavory videos appearing on YouTube Kids, and its slow response when star vlogger Logan Paul shared footage of a suicide victim with his millions of (mostly young) subscribers.
YouTube's competitors are also nipping at its heels. Instagram's move into long-form video, IGTV, lets regular users share videos up to 10 minutes in length, while social media celebrities can keep their cameras rolling for up to an hour.
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Via The Verge