YouTube CEO hints at upcoming NFT support in open letter

The video platform appears poised to add NFTs to its growing revenue channels for content creators.
Written by Michael Gariffo, Staff Writer

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki talked about a range of topics surrounding the online video platform's priorities for 2022, including a keen interest in exploring Web3 technologies and the possibility of adding NFT support for its content creators. 

In an open letter that looked back at YouTube's 2021 successes and discussed the company's 2022 plans, Wojcicki revealed the company is laying the groundwork for a move into technologies like crypto, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). 

On the historical performance end, the CEO revealed that YouTube's "Shorts" have been viewed more than five trillion times. The TikTok-like clips are less than 60 seconds and are designed to be quickly digestible. The diminutive videos were apparently successful enough that the company is expanding its Shorts Fund, which allows creators to better monetize their short-form content -- even if they don't currently participate in the YouTube Partner Program (YPP).

Speaking of monetization, the CEO also noted that the number of YouTube accounts generating more than $10,000 in annual revenue rose 40%, year over year, in 2021. The exec pointed to new revenue streams like Super Chat, Channel Memberships, and others as being the driving forces behind this growth.  

Looking forward, YouTube appears ready to expand revenue opportunities by entering the burgeoning NFT market. Wojcicki said the company has been "following everything happening in Web3 as a source of inspiration to continue innovating on YouTube." 

Also: What is Web3? Everything you need to know about the decentralized future of the internet

To that end, explorations are already underway into the aforementioned Web3 technologies (crypto, NFTs, DAOs), with NFTs being of particular interest. The platform's lead noted that YouTube is "always focused on expanding the YouTube ecosystem to help creators capitalize on emerging technologies, including things like NFTs, while continuing to strengthen and enhance the experiences creators and fans have on YouTube."

Capitalizing on the potential revenue in the NFT market is something a growing number of companies are scrambling to do. Given the media-based nature of YouTube and its content creators, the in-platform ability to easily turn video clips and other media assets into NFTs would provide not only a new revenue stream for creators, but one for YouTube as well. After all, any built-in NFT minting system would undoubtedly provide YouTube with a cut of those initial sales. 

By jumping onto the NFT train, YouTube would follow companies like Twitter, which recently began supporting the use of NFTs as profile pictures for subscribers to its Twitter Blue service. Facebook parent company Meta is also rumored to be preparing a push into NFTs.

Those sales could be substantial, especially for some of the site's most iconic videos. The original "Charlie Bit My Finger" video sold early last year as an NFT brought in $761,000 at auction. Its sale also brought up another issue for YouTube, as its creator originally announced plans to remove the video from the site following its sale. While this particular bit of media wound up being left on the site after all, the possibility of losing classic YouTube videos to NFT buyers may be another reason the company would want to exert some control over the creation and sale of NFTs using videos on its platform. 

Additional information on YouTube's forthcoming plans, as well as the CEO's defense of YouTube's decision to remove the Dislike counter from videos, can be found within Wojcicki's letter as well. 

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