Ever since Google (GOOG) bought YouTube, you could see the ads coming. At Davos, YouTube CEO Chad Hurley announced that not only would YouTube start carrying ads, but it would share the proceeds with the audience creators. (Presuming, of course, that they are not sharing somebody else's content). As John Battelle points out:
Google is working hard to figure out how to apply the rules of AdSense - write (algorithms) once, read many (dollars) - to video. There's a massive audience out there, and there's a lot of money to be made "sharing revenues" with it.
YouTube will not be the first video site to spread the wealth. Others such as Metacafe and Revver already do so. In fact, a quick check with Metacafe revealed that since it launched ts "Producer Rewards" program in September, it's paid out $250,000 to about 200 contributors whose videos have made the cut of at least 20,000 views. (And those videos have been seen a total of about 30 million times). I guess it pays to be social, after all.