YouTube to give away $5 million to its top vloggers


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Who says you can’t make money doing online video?

YouTube on Friday announced a program to give away $5 million in grants to top independent vloggers on its site. The grants, which will vary between tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, are designed to boost the production values of the popular -- and often lo-fi -- videos on its site.

‘We think this is an important investment to make in the future of our original content partners,’ said George Strompolos, YouTube’s manager of partner development and one of the people administering the grants. ‘They’ve invested in us for years by creating content. And now it’s our turn to invest in them.’


Strompolos announced the program in Century City before an audience of more than 1,000 vloggers attending Vidcon, the first large-scale YouTube conference organized by the site’s community. The money can be used to buy new equipment, fund a new project, hire actors -- anything that can ‘take them to a new level,’ as Strompolos put it.

YouTube, which gets about 2 billion views a day compared with about 1 billion a day in 2009, sees the expenditure not as charity, but as an investment. In that sense, the company hopes the infusion of capital will spur the creation of even more popular videos that can rack up more views and, hence, advertising dollars. That means YouTube is only interested in giving away cash to talented vloggers who have shoestring operations.

For now, the San Bruno, Calif., company will select which of its top vloggers it will invite to apply for a grant. Winners will be chosen based on their idea, their marketing plan and their track record, among other criteria. If the grants succeed in generating intriguing and popular videos, the company could open the program to the broader mass of YouTubers.

-- Alex Pham