YouTube is testing gifting memberships, which will be accessible for a limited number of channels starting Wednesday. YouTube memberships are similar to Twitch subscriptions in that they allow viewers to express financial support for producers while also gaining access to perks such as personalised emoji. For a long time, Twitch users have been able to purchase gift subscriptions, but you haven’t been able to purchase gift memberships for other YouTube channel viewers.
According to YouTube, the membership giving beta will be available to a “small group of creators” at first, before being expanded to more “over the next several months.” Channels interested in experimenting with the functionality can do so by filling out this Google Form, albeit you must first be eligible to enable memberships, which has its own set of prerequisites. To begin, gifting will only be available to viewers using a desktop browser window; purchasing gift memberships on mobile will be available after the feature is fully launched.
Viewers will also need to opt-in in order to acquire free channel memberships (which could be a way to prevent harassment, like the changes YouTube made to its version of raids). Gifted memberships will show up in the chat, and you’ll have to click a link and then a toggle to accept them. This screenshot, obtained from a YouTube GIF, gives you a sense of what the experience is like:
“With Memberships Gifting, your channel members can buy a set number of channel memberships [5, 10, 20] in a single purchase, that YouTube will ‘gift’ out to other viewers in your live stream,” YouTube says. “Viewers who receive a gift membership get 1 month of access to your channel membership perks like loyalty badges, custom emoji and more. Viewers who receive gift memberships do not pay any charges and as the creator, you receive your usual revenue share from each transaction.”
Gifted subscriptions are the newest YouTube versions of significant Twitch features, which were added to better compete with Amazon’s popular streaming service. But YouTube hasn’t only competed on features; it’s also lured some big Twitch stars to stream exclusively on its platform, including DrLupo, TimTheTatman, Ludwig, and, in a contract announced just last week, Sykkuno.