For many creators, the “end cards” YouTube introduced last year have become invaluable. They let users link to their personal websites, merchandise stores, and Patreon accounts in a way that is highly inviting for viewers.
Some accounts, YouTube says, abuse these end cards, and as a result, the video site is restricting its popular feature. It has announced that access to end cards will only be granted to members of the YouTube Partner Program, in order to quash unauthorized use of external links.
“In order to use externally-linking end cards in videos, creators are being asked to join the YouTube Partner program, so that we can evaluate the validity of the channel, as well as determine whether the channel is following our community guidelines and advertiser policies,” reads a statement from a YouTube representative. “This update is meant to curb abuse and does not affect current YouTube partners or existing end cards. Additionally channels do not have to actually monetize any videos as part of this requirement.”
That last line is key. Creators have complained about losing money on ads since YouTube began to enforce stricter guidelines earlier this year, and many of them have turned to Patreon as a result. The crowdfunding platform is a viable moneymaking option outside of the world of YouTube advertising, and some creators have reacted strongly to the idea that their Patreon streams may be affected by YouTube’s latest change.
WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT https://t.co/waNEqnAFb3
— Ian Danskin (@InnuendoStudios) September 28, 2017
As it appears, the greatest hurdle Patreon-funded videomakers will actually face appears to be related to numbers. Access to the YouTube Partner Program is limited to channels with at least 10,000 total views, so anyone with fewer hits will be completely unable to generate income from their videos. That seems to be the point; 10,000 views is fairly easy to hit, and the channels YouTube is targeting with this change are brand new ones that are set up solely to abuse features like end cards.
Like many other YouTube-related controversies, the outrage this update has generated is likely overblown; that said, if creators within the partner program still find their external links to be limited, YouTube will have a lot of angry users to answer to.