YouTube’s increasingly strict monetization rules have hit yet another history channel. The Great War, a channel that focuses on World War 1 history and has over one million subscribers, has had many of its three-year-old videos suddenly demonetized after YouTube decided they were no longer advertiser-friendly.
In a video explaining the situation, Flo, the producer of The Great War, said that he decided to check how YouTube’s current uptick in demonetization was affecting the channel. He added that the channel has previously had very few issues with YouTube monetization:
“In fact, I was actually quite, how would you say, pleasantly surprised that some of our videos with rather violent topics, but still educational videos nonetheless, about things like plastic surgery or storm troopers, which are also some of our most popular episodes actually got green-lit from YouTube after manual review. For us, that seemed like a signal that they would actually value educational content in some form.”
However, upon reviewing the monetization status of The Great War’s videos, he was presented with a huge list of videos with the infamous yellow dollar sign which means the video is “Not suitable for most advertisers.” Flo said that videos from 2018 and 2019 were “mostly fine” but “over 250 of our videos have been demonetized now.” Many of the demonetized videos were originally published and approved for monetization in 2016.
Flo described YouTube’s lack of transparency during the process and said he received no notification from YouTube about this demonetization. According to Flo, most people who find The Great War, want to watch the videos chronologically so demonetizing these older videos is “really hurting the channel.”
One of the most concerning aspects of this decision for Flo is that “YouTube can change their mind any minute and if they do, they’re also going to apply all their new rules and terms of service retroactively to all the existing content out there.”
Flo’s story is reflective of many other YouTubers in 2019 who have found, often without any advanced warning from YouTube, that their videos or channels are either no longer monetized or even removed outright. As Flo puts it: “They don’t seem to have an interest in supporting creators like us via their monetization system.”
YouTubers in the educational space have been particularly hard hit by YouTube’s increasingly aggressive approach to demonetization and content removal. In June, Mr Allsop History, a channel that teaches Nazi history, was suddenly banned for “hate speech.” While the channel was eventually restored after an appeal, the incident showed how YouTube’s retroactive enforcement can instantly cripple a channel.
Multiple music education channels have also found their YouTube videos demonetized after YouTube’s broken copyright system was used to file false claims against their content.
Unfortunately, for educational YouTube channels geared towards young children, this trend is likely to get even bleaker in the future with YouTube recently announcing that YouTubers who are popular with kids are likely to face “significant business impact” and could find their ads, comments, and notifications disabled.
Going forward, Flo says The Great War will continue but be increasingly reliant on funding from Patreon supporters. Additionally, future projects will not be published to YouTube. Instead, Flo plans to host the content on The Great War’s website and offer streaming options in the future. Again, Flo’s sentiment is similar to that of many other YouTubers where the constant fear of demonetization leaves them looking for alternative platforms.