New YouTube rules on kids’ content to hit creators’ revenue

MUMBAI: Google-owned video streaming platform’s new rules around children’s content have come as a major blow to theacross the world.

YouTube rolled out new rules across the globe starting Monday, disabling, comments, notification, live chat and other features on “made for kids” videos.

The new rules are in compliance with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) of US, which the(FTC) had found YouTube in violation of. Last year, YouTube had to go for a $170 million settlement with FTC over the issue.

However, the change in rules will have catastrophic effect on content creators, who have been creating kids content, industry experts believe.

“The new policy will have a significant impact on revenues of content creators,” said Kumar Deb Sinha, country head of The StoryLab, the specialist content agency from Dentsu Aegis Network.

As per Sinha, theses creators were so far following a simple model of putting out content at reasonable production cost optimised by scale of production on YouTubeand earning on the back of millions of views and watch time it generated. “Now they will get only contextual ads and not personalised ads, which majority of advertisers look for. I am sure advertisers will have apprehension to air their ads without data supported targeting,” he said.

As per the company’s blog, YouTube will now treat personal information from anyone watching children’s content on the platform as coming from a child, regardless of the age of the user. “This means that on videos made for kids, we limit data collection and use, and as a result, we need to restrict or disable some product features. For example, we no longer serve personalized ads on this content or support features such as comments, live chat, notification bell, stories, save to playlist, and others,” it said.

YouTube also mentioned that many creators around the world have created quality kids content for their audiences, and these changes will have “significant impact”.

Uday Singh, founder of Mumbai-based USP Studios, one of the top three kids video content producers in the world, agreed that the new rules will have a “big impact” on kids content creators worldwide. “It will be bad in the short term as interest based advertising is switched off. However, YouTube is working hard on finding a solution to this issue and supporting the creator ecosystem in addition to pushing their kids app,” Singh told ET.

USP Studios runs over 550 kids channels on YouTube and is home to more than 50 animated characters. While its flagship channels, Kids TV, has over 14.6 million subscribers and 5.95 billion views, overall, the company has crossed 50 million subscribers and 40 billion views for its library containing over 30,000 videos.

Another popular kids’ network from India is Chennai-based ChuChu TV, which has crossed over 28 billion views and 30 million subscribers on its flagship channel. However, ChuChu TV has also diversified in licensing and merchandising business in partnership with Dream Theatre, a move which Sinha feels other will have to follow.

“A lot of content publishers will have to gear up for this new reality. I believe it will push the creators to look beyond just advertising and diversify into other areas like merchandise and also look at other touch points and even global markets,” Sinha said.

While the quantum of impact is yet to be ascertained, creators believe that as there will not be any push notifications on new videos or comments, these will see lesser engagement and subsequently will not be picked up by the AI-based recommendation engines.

“It will further result in drop in viewership and ad revenues. I am guessing 70-80% drop in ad revenues in short term,” said a popular content creator.