YouTube is tightening the rules around its partner program and raising the requirements that a channel/creator must meet in order to monetize videos. Effective immediately, to apply for monetization (and have ads attached to videos), creators must have tallied 4,000 hours of overall watch time on their channel within the past 12 months and have at least 1,000 subscribers. YouTube will enforce the new eligibility policy for all existing channels as of February 20th, meaning that channels that fail to meet the threshold will no longer be able to make income from ads.

Previously, the standard for joining YouTube’s Partner Program was 10,000 public views — without any specific requirement for annual viewing hours. This change will no doubt make it harder for new, smaller channels to reach monetization, but YouTube says it’s an important way of buying itself more time to see who’s following the company’s guidelines and disqualify “bad actors.”
“We’ve arrived at these new thresholds after thorough analysis and conversations with creators like you,” the company announced in a blog post. “They will allow us to significantly improve our ability to identify creators who contribute positively to the community and help drive more ad revenue to them (and away from bad actors).” Though it doesn’t mention him by name, YouTube seems to reference the recent, high-profile Logan Paul incident by saying “These higher standards will also help us prevent potentially inappropriate videos from monetizing which can hurt revenue for everyone.”

The new, stricter policy comes after Logan Paul, one of YouTube’s star creators and influencers published a video that showed a dead body in Japan’s Aokigahara forest. Last week, YouTube kicked Paul off its Google Preferred ad program and placed his YouTube Red original programming efforts on hold.
But this is not a new problem, and advertisers have for years complained about unexpectedly appearing alongside inappropriate videos on YouTube’s platform. The company has repeatedly promised changes to rectify the issue and has already implemented some. This new, more rigorous monetization structure can be seen as one of the more aggressive steps it has taken so far. Late last year, the company found itself dealing with a series of bizarre, sometimes disturbing videos that were targeted at children.

Separately, YouTube plans to increase the amount of human vetting for videos that are featured as part of Google Preferred. Moving forward, advertisers who participate in Google Preferred won’t need to worry about something like the Logan Paul controversy, as their ads will only run alongside videos that have been verified as compliant with guidelines by an actual person. Google Preferred is pitched to brands as the best way to put their ads in front of some of YouTube’s most popular and brand-safe content in key demographics.