YouTube to roll out beta for Gifted Memberships tomorrow

This new feature is YouTube’s latest effort to catch up with rival livestreaming service Twitch.

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YouTube will roll out a beta allowing livestream viewers to gift paid Channel Memberships to each other starting tomorrow, May 11. Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter, who is among the top streamers on the platform, took to Twitter this afternoon to announce the feature, while also teasing that “many more changes” were in the works.

A few minutes following Valkyrae’s announcement, YouTube global head of gaming creators Lester Chen further teased the feature on Twitter.

The addition of gifted Channel Memberships seems likely to yield benefits for both streamers and viewers. When viewers purchase memberships for other viewers, recipients get to utilize whatever perks come with being a member without actually having to purchase the membership. Meanwhile, streamers will typically earn higher payouts as a result of having more paid members. The company previously tested the feature in a small-scale alpha performed earlier this year.

YouTube’s primary livestreaming rival, Twitch, has had a similar system to this for years with Gifted Subscriptions, which have proven to be a very popular item for viewers to spend money on. The new feature seems to not only be a response to Twitch’s system, but also the latest in a prolonged effort to compete in the livestreaming industry.

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Over the past few years, YouTube has worked to secure some of the top streamers in the industry to establish itself as a good destination for streamers and audiences. In late 2021, Ludwig Ahgren, who currently holds the record for most peak concurrent subscriptions on Twitch, announced he would leave Twitch to stream exclusively on YouTube. Other top streamers like Timothy “TimTheTatman” Betar and Benjamin “DrLupo” Lupo have also left Twitch to stream on YouTube on a full-time basis. In light of its talent pool, the service has faced a good deal of criticism by both audiences and creators for its relative lack of features when compared to Twitch.