Video Monetization

Is It Time to Start Using a Video Paywall?

By James Johnson 5 Min Read
Video paywall credit card

YouTube has become a tough place to make money.

And, the latest COPPA regulations haven’t made it any easier.

Right now YouTubers are feeling the all-too-frequent sense of “here we go again…”


You know the one I’m talking about.

So, in light of the recent news, we’re going to look at video paywalls.

Specifically, I’ll show you:

  • How YouTube’s COPPA guidelines affect you
  • Why they mean it’s time to start using a video paywall
  • How you can use YouTube to promote your paywall

Let’s get started…

The YouTube COPPA Fiasco

YouTube recently ended a $170 million legal battle with the FTC over the alleged collection of children’s online data.

This forced them to become COPPA compliant, implementing new regulations to:

  • Prevent the collection of children’s data
  • Stop the subsequent targeting of adverts to children

It’s hard to argue with this as a piece of legislation. We all want our children to be safer online.

But COPPA rules are not clearly defined; putting the livelihoods of many YouTubers at risk

Why? Well, let me explain…

YouTubers must now tag content as “made for kids” or “not made for kids”:

YouTube kids content

Content made for kids won’t be eligible for personalized ads or notifications. Content not made for kids should be treated as a standard video.

Incorrectly tagging your video could result in a fine of up to $42,000. And therein lies the problem.

The FTC doesn’t make a clear enough distinction between:

  • Child-directed content: content made for children
  • Child-attractive content: made for adults that kids might want to watch

This means that all creators are at risk of being fined each time they upload a video. Although you may feel you’ve correctly tagged your video, the FTC could still see it differently.

For example, the FTC states “language or other characteristics” can contribute to your content being considered child-directed. This includes words like:

  • Whatever
  • Cool
  • Games
  • Duh

But these words have become a normal part of everyday speech. Even as a 27-year old, I have likely said, “Whatever. Anyway, I’m going to play my new game. It’s so cool!”


That means content like:

  • Music videos
  • Sports replays
  • Gaming streams
  • Unboxings
  • Tutorials

Which may not be intended for children could still be considered child-directed. Add the wrong tag, potentially pay the fine. 

All of this begs the question…

What is the solution to this problem, and how can well-meaning YouTubers continue to earn money from their adult-directed content?

The answer is to put your content behind an independent video paywall.

What exactly is a paywall?

A paywall restricts free access to digital content that requires a purchase or paid subscription. 

It is the central element of the online monetization of content. It is used by a wide variety of content producers and distributors to monetize their content–from academic libraries to newspaper websites to video streaming services.

In the video monetization arena specifically, a paywall is used to execute one of the three main video monetization business models: 

SVOD – Subscription video on demand: a video on demand (VOD) service that allows users to access an entire library of videos for a small recurring fee. Examples: Netflix, Hulu, HBO, which all have subscription paywalls.

TVOD – transactional video on demand: a VOD service that allows you to buy content on a pay-per-view basis. Examples: Google Play and iTunes

AVOD – ad-based video on demand: refers to ad-based VOD that is free to its consumers and relies on ad revenue to offset production and hosting costs. Examples: YouTube and 4OD

As you can probably tell from the description of each model, a paywall is only used in SVOD and TVOD monetization models. AVOD business models, like YouTube, do not use paywalls and so are subjected to the advertizers’ demands and everchanging market legislations. 

Suggested read: SVOD, TVOD, AVOD – How to pick a monetization model that works for you.

Why It’s Time To Start Using A Video Paywall

Paywalls protect your video business.

They put you in the driver’s seat, and keep:

  1. Your income
  2. Your content
  3. Your audience

Safe from advertisers, algorithms, and (to an extent) annoying legislation changes.

Let’s face it…

YouTube is no longer a creator-focused platform. There are too many other variables for them to deal with. Which puts you in a tough position.

You’ve never personally breached industry regulations. You just want to create content for people who care and earn a living from it.

But…

Every time YouTube makes a change it’s your income and audience that suffers. And, this time, COPPA, and the FTC are holding you accountable.

That’s exactly why it’s time for you to put your content behind an independent paywall.

Because by:

  1. creating your own website
  2. charging for a monthly subscription
  3. delivering content directly to your audience

… you can completely bypass all of these roadblocks to your earnings, and take control of your income, your content, and your audience.

Once you have your own platform, it doesn’t matter what happens on YouTube; your income, content, and audience are protected by your video paywall solution.

YouTube: We Love You, But Something’s Gotta Give

I want to make it clear that we at Uscreen love YouTube.

It’s still the number one video search engine. It’s still the best place to connect with an audience and to become a well-known influencer in your niche.

It’s just not a great place to make money anymore.

YouTubers are regularly demonetized, earn less than the US poverty line, and lose creative control to advertiser guidelines.

As such…

We firmly believe that YouTube has transcended its initial purpose and now become a marketing tool. It is a place where you can upload videos, connect with an audience, and promote the work you do on your own platform.

In fact, creators who use YouTube to promote their own paywall-protected platform go on to earn an average of $5,735 a month.

If you want to learn how to transform your YouTube channel into a powerful marketing tool and grow your income, you should check out our guide right here.

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