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September 15, 2021

How Much Do Reaction Channels Make on YouTube?

Some reaction channels on YouTube are getting hundreds of thousands or even millions of views!

But, are these reaction channels making money? And should you start one? Is recording yourself watching TV a viable side-hustle in 2021? Let’s find out!

How Much Traffic Do YouTube Reaction Channels Get?

The amount of traffic and growth these channels are seeing is surprisingly large.

Check out just a few reaction channels I’m aware of and the type of numbers they’re seeing.

Reaction Channel Name Subscriber Count Estimated Daily Views (via SocialBlade)
SidemenReacts 3.6M Subscribers 2,850,000 Daily Views
Vlogging Through History 201K Subscribers 102,000 Daily Views
354 Squad 37K Subscribers 23,500 Daily Views
Kung Fu Night 10K Subscribers 8,000 Daily Views
Gallifrey Gals 12K Subscribers 4,865 Daily Views
Flare Unique 26K Subscribers 4,520 Daily Views
BridgetReactions 2K Subscribers 1,410 Daily Views

Reaction Channels are a great way to get traffic, but can you make any money from it? In theory, if your channel and video are approved for Adsense, I’d expect a reaction channel to make between $1-$5 per 1,000 views. A gigantic reaction channel like SidemenReacts would be making $2,850 per day on the low end. A moderately sized reaction channel like Vlogging Through History might be making $102 per day on the low end.

All this assumes these channels and videos could be approved for Adsense.

Can YouTube Reaction Channels Be Approved for Adsense?

A YouTube reaction channel is eligible for Adsense approval. Individual videos may be difficult to monetize due to copyright violations triggered by YouTube’s content ID system. But, once you have 4,000 watch hours and 1,000 subscribers, your reaction channel should be able to get approved by Adsense like everybody else.

Below is a video of a reaction channel that provides evidence that this can be done. I’ve also found other YouTubers and Redditors that say the same thing.

The problem isn’t getting the channel approved; the problem is that a large number of your videos will get flagged by YouTube’s Content ID system for copyright violations. If your video is flagged for copyright violations, you won’t make Adsense revenue from it.

How To Dispute Copyright Claims on Your Reaction Videos

YouTube’s Content ID system is very good at discovering copyright violations in the videos you upload. If you’re doing reaction videos, the vast majority of your videos will get flagged and become ineligible for Adsense.

Youtube Copyright Claims

Reaction channels will attempt to get around these copyright violations on their individual videos by claiming fair use. Fair use is a US law that allows for some exceptions when using other people’s content for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research.

We’ll dive into fair use later in this post. For now, you need to understand the following.

  1. Playing an entire episode of Rick and Morty and videotaping yourself laughing isn’t fair use. At a minimum, you need to be providing serious commentary on the episode.
  2. The focus of the video needs to be on you and your commentary, not the copyrighted material.
  3. You should always be on the screen.
  4. The  copyrighted material shouldn’t be full screen or played in its entirety.

Doing all this doesn’t guarantee that YouTube will accept your video as fair use (and thus allow monetization). That said, if you do all these things, it puts you on better footing when disputing the inevitable copyright claims. See the video below for how to dispute a claim.

Something vital to keep in mind is that if your appeal is denied, you should NEVER appeal a 2nd time. There are numerous reports of people pushing the system and getting copyright strikes on their videos. And it only takes 3 strikes before your channel is deleted.

Fair Use: Reaction Channels Are Risky Business

I am not a lawyer, and I’m not going to attempt to explain the convoluted rules around fair use on YouTube. If you’re interested in that subject, Tom Scott probably has the best video on the Internet about it (see below). I highly suggest you check it out if you’re seriously considering starting a reaction channel.

A reaction channel is risky because it only takes three copyright strikes before YouTube removes your channel entirely. Or, it only takes one lawsuit-happy content creator to make your life very miserable.

I’m not saying either of these things will happen to you. That said, there’s a real risk that everything’s going fine and you’re running a very profitable business one day, and then it’s gone the next. I’d have a hard time sleeping at night if that were my only source of income.

Other Ways YouTube Reaction Channels Can Make Money

Relying on Adsense for income is possible with a reaction channel. But maybe that’s not the best way for a reaction channel to make money. Here are some other options.

1) YouTube Sponsorships

I have an entire post on YouTube Sponsorships.

It might be difficult to get sponsorships on a reaction channel (because brands may be scared of appearing on reaction channels). That said, if your reaction channel gets large enough you could likely convince somebody to do it. And you’ll make more through sponsorships than you would through Adsense.

2) Patreon

Patreon is how I see most reaction channels monetizing. They’ll usually provide incentives like early access to videos, members-only live streams, discord groups, etc. If you have a large enough following, it’s definitely not impossible to get a few hundred people to throw you $5 a month. And 500 people giving you $5 a month is a solid income. It’s a $30k/yr job by itself.

3) Affiliate Sales

Affiliate sales are difficult when reviewing TV shows because what product that has an affiliate program is going to align perfectly with a TV show?

That said, I’ve seen people do it successfully. There’s a cool website called Mortify Me where they’ll draw a painting of you Rick and Morty style. I’ve seen it being promoted heavily on Rick and Morty reaction channels.

You could also just find a really obscure gadget. Put it in your videos, and then give your curious audience the Amazon affiliate link. You can get a decent earnings boost using this strategy if you have a large enough audience. Amazon pays out on all sales within 24 hours of clicking an affiliate link. So people don’t even need to buy the product, they just have to be curious enough to click the link.

4) Selling Your Own Products

Regardless of what type of content creator you are creating your own products is where the money’s at because you can make a large amount of money per sale. $1 per 1,000 views with Adsense can add up. But, $20 per sale and one sale per 1,000 views is far more profitable.

The problem with this method is creating something your audience would want to buy. Common things like merchandise are unlikely to have very large conversion rates.

Shaun Poore worked as a professional software developer for 15 years before transitioning into content creation and digital product businesses. Shaun's currently focused on providing as many people as possible with actionable advice and tools they can use to succeed online, without the fluff or BS that too often plagues this industry.