Can You Buy A YouTube Channel?

Can you buy and sell YouTube channels? icon

Overview 

Buying and selling YouTube channels is not unlike the process of acquiring online businesses in the form of blogs or websites from platforms like Flippa or EmpireFlippers – yet the question of ‘Can you buy a YouTube channel?” is a little bit more nuanced and ambiguous than buying or selling an online business in general. 

It is also seemingly a profitable endeavor, as evidenced by an article, “YouTube channels are selling for millions”, published by The Verge in January 2019.

An extract from the article reads as follows:

A top 100 YouTube channel has sold for millions of dollars for the second time in a matter of months, and it’s the start of what YouTubers and behind-the-camera management believe is a coming wave of mergers and acquisitions. The trend is led by individual creators who worry that YouTube won’t deal with them unless they are (or look like) a formal corporation.

As is clear from the above, YouTube channels are definitely being bought and sold.

However, many things tend to be vague or unclear concerning the buying and selling of YouTube channels.

This article aims to provide guidance in that regard by tackling the following questions:

-Can you buy a monetized YouTube channel?;

-How does the process work?;

-Is it legal to buy a YouTube channel?; and

-Where (and how) do you do it?

 

 

Can You Buy A YouTube Channel?

In response to the “Is it legal to buy a YouTube channel?” question, a blog post on trustiu.com says the following:

The answer is YES! Buying or selling a YouTube channel is completely legal and has happened for several years. So much so that the world’s largest Multi-channel networks (MCN’s) have built their businesses by acquiring various YouTube channels.

However, YouTube’s terms of service do not explicitly state that it is okay to buy or sell channels.

Varying interpretations can be found online as to whether YouTube’s official terms of service do or do not indicate that they are okay with the buying and selling of channels, but it seems that the most likely answer may be that YouTube purposefully keeps the answer ambiguous, as they do with many aspects of policy.

As an example, here is an excerpt from YouTube’s terms of service:

You may access and use the Service as made available to you, as long as you comply with this Agreement and applicable law. You may view or listen to Content for your personal, non-commercial use. You may also show YouTube videos through the embeddable YouTube player.

The following restrictions apply to your use of the Service. You are not allowed to:

access, reproduce, download, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, alter, modify or otherwise use any part of the Service or any Content except (a) as expressly authorized by the Service; or (b) with prior written permission from YouTube and, if applicable, the respective rights holders…

Speaking to this ambiguity is a take on the subject from the website failuremountain.com, which states:

… Selling your channel is not against YouTube’s terms of service in any way.

However, they do not support transactions either. Meaning you’re on your own for the process of transferring ownership and collecting payment. If you transfer ownership and then the other party doesn’t pay you or vice versa, you’re screwed.

You should only engage in these types of transactions with people you trust. Or if you have a robust legal framework in place to handle disputes….

 

Where Can You Buy Or Sell YouTube Channels?

At the time of writing, there are a number of platforms that seem to offer the possibility of acquiring active YouTube channels.

The two most prominent would like be Flippa and Empire Builders.

We have written about Flippa here and Empire Builders here, and both platforms exist to help buyers and sellers of online businesses facilitate their transactions.

However, the aforementioned article from failuremountain.com states that both Flippa and Empire Builders only allow the sale of YouTube channels if they are part of a larger online business.

With this being said… YouTube channels of significant size or profitability will usually have accompanying websites and social media accounts anyway, so this would likely define them as complete “online businesses” in this regard, and allow them to be sold on either Flippa or Empire Builders.

In addition, there are a number of other websites that can quickly be found online that advertise themselves as platforms for buying and selling YouTube channels (and often other social media accounts as well), including accs-market.com, FameSwap, Trustiu, and AppSally.

 

Appsally homepage screenshot

A screenshot of Appsally’s homepage.

Appsally.com lists the following reasons as to why it is beneficial to buy a YouTube channel

  • YouTube is one of the most popular video sites on the Web today. Millions of videos have been uploaded and shared here, ranging from movie trailers to amateur videos of cats and everything in between.
  • You can earn money on your YouTube accounts.
  • Save your precious time from building a YouTube account from scratch and you can immediately start making money.
  • YouTube is the #2 search engine and has over 6 billion hours viewed a month and over 1 billion users.

 

The website also has an online marketplace selling previously vetted YouTube accounts. To check out the list of YouTube currently on sale, click here

In their own words, “AppSally is a curated marketplace. All service providers are screened and evaluated based on their quality, reliability, delivery speed, and price. Service providers with the highest score are handpicked to deliver your order.”

 

 

How Does The Process Work?

Below is an extract from a blog post explaining how to proceed to buy a channel from Trustiu.com:

“To buy a YouTube channel you just have to search and find the contact details of the channel owners if you want to buy and reach an agreement with them. In Trustiu this is precisely what we do, we talk directly with several YouTubers and try to find out the best deals to put in our marketplace. If you want to buy or sell any YouTube channel please contact our team through the following email: support@trustiu.com.”

Screenshot of YouTube channels on sale on Trustiu

A screenshot of YouTube channels on sale on Trustiu.com at the time of writing.

 

Things To Consider When Buying A YouTube channel

This checklist from a post on inoldnews.com includes all the aspects you need to consider before buying a YouTube channel: 

  • Monetisation status: is the channel eligible for monetisation? And if so, has it been activated? It’s ok if the channel hasn’t been activated yet, the important thing is that it be eligible
  • Copyright strikes: If the channel has copyright strikes, that will affect your ability to monetise. Make sure it doesn’t have any strikes (copyright claims can be removed and don’t harm your ability to monetise the whole channel — just the video that has the claim).
  • Check if the subscribers are active. You can do this by checking if videos have comments and likes, and you can also check the community tab. Some channels have bot subscribers, and this can be a problem if YouTube wipes out bots like Instagram or Twitter have done. When you’re checking the activity on the channel, it’s important to remember that engagement levels are usually much lower than the number of views and subscribers. So if you have a channel with a few thousand subscribers, and only a few hundred views on each video, that’s fine. If the channel has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, but less than 100 views per video, that might indicate that the subscribers are primarily bots.
  • It’s worth checking if the channel you’re buying is still growing. You can check this by getting the vendor to send you a screenshot of the analytics page of YouTube Studio.

 

To steer clear of any missteps, you can also check out this list of YouTube channel monetization policies (updated on Jan 2020) that one needs to consider when thinking of joining or remaining in the YouTube Partner Program. 

It is important to also note that the guidelines don’t just apply to individual videos, but to the channel in general. 

Here is a video outlining how YouTube works and its policies.

 

In addition, below are the Community Guidelines listed on YouTube’s Policies page that are most relevant to channels that can already, or want to monetize: 

 

 

Videos On Buying Or Selling YouTube Channels

Given the topic in question, one would assume that there would be many videos on YouTube about buying and selling YouTube channels, however there appear to be very few at the time of this writing, and those that do exist do not have a large number of views.

Here is one video on the subject from the channel ‘Pete Kachev’:

 

And here is another  from ‘Kevin – Financial Tutor’ that goes over his own experiences attempting to sell a YouTube channel and working with some of the marketplaces mentioned above:

 

 

Conclusion

That is the basic overview of buying a YouTube channel.  For more information on YouTube’s policies, you may want to visit their help center here or check out their Community Help Forum here

 

 

 

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