YouTube is the most popular online platform in America with 74% of adults using it, according to Pew Research, following behind Google as the most-visited site. Hootsuite found viewers 18 and older spend an average of 41.9 minutes per day watching content. The opportunities on Youtube are endless for athletes, offering a long-form avenue for deeper athlete-fan connections compared to platforms like Tik Tok and Instagram that focus on 30 seconds to 1-minute videos.
This opportunity for fan connection creates the ability to build a valuable, monetizable audience. To begin making money, athletes first have to create an engaging channel and build an audience that values the content you are producing. The content that you produce doesn’t need to require fancy camera equipment – take your phone out of your pocket and begin to document what you find interesting and consistently share it with your supporters.
With the abundance of videos on Youtube, it’s important to create content that stands out and is uniquely yours in order to draw loyal subscribers. Being an athlete is something most people haven’t experienced, and fans love access to the day-to-day lives of their favorite players. By sharing behind-the-scenes access to practice, training, recovery, and your hobbies outside the lines, you’ll attract even more attention from interested fans. This variation and growth isn’t just important for building a strong following, it’s important for monetization purposes.
To be eligible for the Youtube Partner Program to generate revenue, a user must have:
- More than 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months.
- More than 1,000 subscribers.
- Have a linked AdSense account.
Youtube Suggests “If the average viewer can clearly tell that content on your channel differs from video to video, it’s fine to monetize. We know many channels create content that follows a similar pattern. What’s important is that the substance of each video should be relatively varied.”
To monetize Youtube content in the Partner Program, creators must comply with:
- Youtube’s Community Guidelines
- Terms of Service
- Google AdSense Program
- Advertiser Friendly Guidelines
Youtube also notes “The success of your channel and the YouTube Partner Program is dependent upon the willingness of advertisers to associate their brands with YouTube content. The earnings of all YouTube creators are negatively impacted when advertisers lose trust.”
Athletes can take opportunities a step further and set up monetization for live stream videos with pre-roll, mid-roll, and overlay ads. Youtube provides an easy step-by-step guide to enable monetization on your next live stream.
Channels that are still growing and may not have hit the necessary requirements for the Youtube Partner Program still have the opportunity to capitalize on monetization opportunities. Traditional influencer brand marketing like a product unboxing, putting the product in use, or leaving a review are all ways creators can partner with a brand to help showcase a product and either be compensated in-kind (free product) or paid to publish. Partnerships and videos like this can also create teaser content to showcase on other platforms like Instagram or TikTok and include a call to action for your audience to support your Youtube channel.
Let’s take a look at athletes who have leveraged Youtube to monetize their brand:
Smith-Schuster is savvy not only compared athletes, but is also among the most popular YouTube creators on the planet. Consistently delivering diverse video content while still sticking to what he is passionate about, the Steelers’ star has something for football fans, gamers, and any fans who enjoy football-adjacent entertainment. He segments his videos into different playlists including “Call of Duty videos” (video games) and “JuJu TV episodes” (highlighting his vivid personality).
His channel covers a wide spectrum including breaking down his own highlights, integrating himself within local Pittsburgh businesses, pulling pranks, meeting his family, and giving die-hards an intimate, behind-the-scenes view into his most pivotal career moments.
What to do when you are stuck in the NBA Bubble for the better part of the summer? There were plenty of attractions (swimming, fishing, and volleyball amongst other activities), but the public was often left to speculate what Bubble life was like for the players.
Enter Matisse Thybulle. Thanks to countless hours of video that he corded throughout the summer, fans were able to get a glimpse inside the fun that was going down within the Bubble. Thybulle captured a unique, wide-ranging perspective that encapsulated a large amount of his time. His subscribers were treated to the full gamut of the player experience, ranging from hotel meals, recreational time, team bonding activities, and the mindset of his whole adventure.
Perhaps the coolest part of this vlog series was that Thybulle cut, edited, and formatted the entire series himself. Not bad when your full-time career is playing lock-down defense and getting buckets.
Having recently entered the YouTube game, the Patriots quarterback has hit the ground running, bringing his unique flair from the field to his channel.
Newton gives a unique perspective to fans as he has frequently takes them behind-the-scenes into how he prepares his body for the season. This includes training workouts, stretching routines, and a bit of fun as he challenges teammates in different throwing drills and feats of athleticism.
His willingness to step beyond football helps to set Newton apart. He consistently taps into other influencers and facets of his life to help diversify his channel. Whether he is seeing if YouTuber Logan Paul has the chops to make it as an NFL receiver or going head-to-head with Dude Perfect in an attempt to break their series of Guinness World Records titles, Newton continually pushes the boundaries of what’s expected. Newton is also unafraid of getting real with his audiences as he breaks down his fashion sense, addressing injury concerns, or discussing celibacy.
Oppotunities on Youtube are limitless because the platform provides a place for personality.
Be sure to disclose all payment activities to your institution or governing body to remain compliant and eligible in your sport.