Monetization Models for Video on the Internet

I had a brief discussion with a friend about making money with Internet video.  We looked at a couple of business models for a nonprofit to make money online and realized there were a couple of ways anybody could make some money with Internet video.   Here are some suggestions for almost anybody to earn revenue from video on the web:

  1. Take advertising on your site and/or videos. This probably isn’t feasible as a nonprofit (Update: this is possible with a nonprofit), but online advertising revenues will give you a somewhat decent amount of money for the amateur and is the most common video revenue model.   In addition to ads on the producer’s website (generally provided by a third-party), most video hosting sites like Youtube or my personal favorite,, allow ads to be inserted before and after videos, and at designated times during the video.
  2. Post the videos (or excerpts) on Youtube and Myspace. As a nonprofit, Youtube and Myspace will allow you to collect donations. For example, take a look at this page from the Anaheim Ballet. They have a donation button on the their page and on each of their video pages with Google Checkout integration.  Also, having a  Facebook Cause and/or Page as well, as they allow you to collect donations as well. Even if you are intending to sell the videos, having a small presence on these sites can at the very least draw some attention to your videos (and a random donation as well).
  3. Creating an online video store– This is probably the most technically challenging option.  It is possible to create an online store that sells video downloads using ecommerce software like Ubercart, a Drupal module for ecommerce, and others like Magento. You can also sell some of your stuff on iTunes and other services using a company like TuneCore.
  4. Post videos online, but sell physical media (DVDs, booklets, etc.) – This is the model now for most television stations, including PBS. For example, the show Frontline on PBS is available online in its entirety, but is also sold as a DVD online, along with teachers guides, and other supplemental materials. You can even have these items made on demand via new websites like that print and make CD/DVDs and books when some one orders them.

So those are just some ideas I had about making money online with video.  They are not mutually exculsive items (for example, 1 and 4 are completely complementary to each other).   Feel free to also post a comment with any other ideas.

4 Replies to “Monetization Models for Video on the Internet”

  1. Thanks for the nod. One of the earliest feature requests we got in Ubercart development was indeed the ability to sell file downloads. We worked very closely with the developer for Mike Nelson’s Riff Trax to make sure Ubercart was able to accommodate their audio and video sales. They’ve been great community players. : )

    Check ’em out at

  2. @Ryan,

    Thanks for the link. What got our conversation going was looking for a good example of an online video store, and this might be it.

  3. Thanks for the ideas! The first seems very feasible and many NPs already do this with print media so the transition to digital could be as simple as contacting those same donors.

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