Should You Start a YouTube Channel Membership or Video Subscription Website?

Should you start a YouTube Channel Membership or monetize your content through a video subscription website? Here are the pros and cons of both options.

There's never been a better time to monetize your video content than now.

With the plethora of monetization options out there, one of the main concerns video creators have is which one they should go for.

Which is exactly why we'll compare two of the most prominent ones in this guide.

To be precise, we're going to explain and show you examples of:

  • What a YouTube channel membership is
  • What a video subscription website is

Plus, we'll go deep into how YouTube channel memberships stack up against video subscription sites.

Let's get into it.

What's a YouTube Channel Membership?

YouTube channel membership allows viewers to join a channel through monthly payments and get extra benefits like badges and access to exclusive content.

In other words, it's a tool for the most loyal fans of a video creator to show their support and a way for the latter to make money on YouTube.

Considering it's a good situation for all sides — viewers, creators, and YouTube — it's no wonder the platform launched this feature back in 2018.

In the screenshot below, you can see how simple it is for a viewer to join a channel membership by selecting Join and thus gaining access to the perks.

What's a Video Subscription Website?

video subscription website is an online platform where viewers can pay a subscription fee to stream online video content.

Although they typically don't offer viewers extra benefits like badges, they allow them to get access to an unlimited amount of content for a standard fee.

Popular video subscription websites include Netflix and Hulu, and their content ranges from movies to documentaries.

It's now time to dive deeper into how they compare with each other, for you to decide which one is right for you.

Comparison Point #1: Monetization Options

The first part of our comparison section is all about monetization options.

In other words, how exactly can a video creator make money from YouTube, as well as from video subscription platforms?

Let's find out.

YouTube Channel Membership

YouTube allows video creators to monetize their channel by selecting up to six membership levels.

Simply put, they can set up to six categories of perks, each with a different price.

These perks include:

  • Members-only videos: Set some videos for members-only viewing.
  • Members-only live streams: Share exclusive live streams with members.
  • Members-only live chat: Restrict the live chat on public videos to members only.
  • Members-only Community posts: Share exclusive Community posts with channel members.
  • Member milestone chats: Viewers send one live chat message per month to celebrate how long they've been a member.
  • Member recognition shelf: Display members' avatars at the top of a channel's homepage.
  • Custom channel badges: Members get exclusive badges that appear beside their comments.
  • Custom emojis: Members get exclusive emojis to use in video comments and live chats.

As you can imagine, the higher the price, the more benefits a subscriber will have.

Makes sense, right?

Although YouTube suggests offering three levels (low, middle, and high), you can select more or less depending on how many perks you offer.

Remember that within each level you're allowed to set one to five perks. Each level needs to have the same perks as the previous one, including something extra that will work as an incentive for users to buy the higher level.

As you can see, YouTube channel memberships can be quite rewarding for viewers and creators.

Video Subscription Website

What's great about video subscription websites is that they offer a wide range of monetization options, giving viewers and creators flexibility.

First, video creators can choose whether they want to charge a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even annual fee (depending on the platform) in exchange for certain perks.

What's more, just like on YouTube they can offer multiple tiers, each with its own price based on the amount of perks. This gives creators full control over what they offer and how much they charge for it.

Needless to say, you can combine video content with various bundles, such as online courses and exclusive access to live streams.

Overall, both options offer ways to monetize your content, and choosing one over the other boils down to an individual creator's needs.

Comparison Point #2: Terms & Conditions (aka Platform Rules)

In this part of our guide, we're going to see how YouTube memberships and video subscription websites compare with each other when it comes to their rules.

YouTube Channel Membership

It's no secret that YouTube has various terms and conditions for joining its channel membership program.

To be precise, here's how you become eligible for YouTube channel memberships:

  • You need at least 1,000 subscribers on your channel.
  • You need to be in the YouTube Partner Program (YPP).
  • You must be over 18 years of age.
  • You must reside in an eligible country.
  • Your content cannot be made exclusively for kids.
  • Your channel must have a Community tab.

Plus, your channel shouldn't have a large amount of ineligible content, otherwise, there's a chance you might get demonetized by the platform.

Should you adhere to the rules above, you'll be eligible to join the membership program and offer your video content for a fee!

Video Subscription Website

Most video subscription websites don't have as many terms and conditions, but you still need to be aware of the rules each one has set.

Although they vary from platform to platform, some common ones are:

  • Age restrictions (18+)
  • Geographic restrictions
  • Not offering inappropriate or violent content
  • Not engaging in hateful speech
  • Not offering fraudulent or dubious business schemes
  • Not infringing any third party's copyrights

No matter the type of video creator you are or the subscription website you opt for, you should be aware of the terms and conditions.

Comparison Point #3: Community Building Opportunities

Building a community is an important advantage for any type of creator.

In other words, engaging with your audience allows you to build strong relationships and grow your fan base.

YouTube Channel Membership

YouTube is great at giving creators the chance to engage in community-building efforts. It uses community badges, live chat engagement, and more to foster the creator-viewer relationship.

However, YouTube has a slight disadvantage as the creator doesn't own their audience. They can see the number of subscribers who watch their content, but options for engaging and interacting with them are limited. Over time, creators become too dependent on YouTube's platform.

This usually changes when it comes to subscription websites; let's have a look.

Video Subscription Website

Even though each website has different features, you usually own your audience and have total control over who you reach.

In other words, you're not dependent on the platform to put you in front of your subscribers. Everything is in your hands.

What's more, by creating a paywall, only those on the inside will be able to consume your content. You can also add social, review, or forum elements inside your online community to further strengthen the bond.

Both YouTube and subscription websites can be great ways of building a strong community, although each has different benefits.

Comparison Point #4: Creator Engagement

This element of our comparison guide is all about creator engagement; in other words, how engaged a creator needs to be to reach maximum results.

YouTube Channel Membership

Since YouTube offers creators a wide range of tools, they don't necessarily need to have expertise or invest a lot of time in creating their membership program.

This is because as long as they set up the levels and choose pricing and benefits, all they have to do is focus on content creation.

Plus, a large part of a creator's audience can be derived organically, so they don't have to actively reach out to them to become members.

Video Subscription Website

Video subscription websites differ from YouTube in many ways.

Due to them usually being more complicated to set up, they demand more time to create and promote the programs.

A creator should have some experience and be willing to invest serious effort and time to make their content as successful as possible.

While this applies to YouTube too, the difference is that a creator doesn't need to offer maximum engagement (due to the platform's automations, easy setup, and organic search). At the same time, quality and consistency are essential for helping viewers discover subscription websites.

Comparison Point #5: Cost

Our guide's last section is about the cost, considering it's an integral part of a membership program and something every creator wants to know.

YouTube Channel Membership

YouTube's cost for channel memberships is pretty straightforward.

The platform keeps a 30% commission on every subscription, thus leaving creators 70% of the revenue excluding taxes.

For instance, if a membership costs $4.99 per month, the creator will be left with $3.49.

It's worth mentioning that YouTube covers all transaction-related expenses, so a creator's profit margin isn't reduced any further.

Video Subscription Website

Unlike YouTube, it's hard to mention an exact cost a website charges, because it's different for each one.

Whether the website charges 20% or 30%, it's almost certain that you — as a creator — will be able to keep most of the revenue.

After all, it makes sense, right?

Some platforms might charge a fixed monthly fee plus extra commission for each subscription.

Overall, subscription websites have various pricing plans.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it.

That was our full comparison guide of YouTube channel memberships and video subscription websites.

The truth is that there isn't a clear answer to which of the two is better, since every creator's needs are different. But we hope we helped you decide which one is right for you!