Meta is cutting its Reels Play bonus program on Instagram and Facebook, which offered monthly payouts to short-form creators who hit certain view counts and other metrics.
On Thursday, Meta announced that it will not offer any new or renewed Reels Play bonus deals to Instagram and Facebook creators, but will honor existing commitments over the next 30 days.
“Meta will be pausing its U.S. Reels Play bonus, a program that paid creators a monthly sum for accumulating views on their Reels,” the company says in a statement to Insider.
“The pause will impact US-based creators on both Instagram and Facebook. Any ongoing Reels bonuses that a creator has signed up for will be honored for the next 30 days.”
A Bonus Program That Offered Tens of Thousands of Dollars for Reels
When Meta first launched the Reels Play bonus program in November 2021, Instagram was paying up to $35,000 per month to lure creators away from TikTok.
As TikTok surpassed the 1 billion monthly active users mark that year, Meta began wildly throwing cash at Instagram users to incentivize them to post short-form video content on its apps instead.
Some of the huge payouts handed out to Instagram Reels creators barely seemed to make sense. A report by Techcrunch in 2021 revealed that one user with 800 Instagram followers was offered the same $8,500 as a creator with 24,000 followers.
The Challenges of Monetizing Reels
Meta’s announcement will mean Reels creators on Instagram and Facebook will soon lose one way of making money on the platforms.
However, Meta tells Insider that it may still offer bonuses to creators in more “targeted” ways, such as if Reels enters a new market.
According to the publication, Meta is phasing out the bonus payments as it prepares to expand advertising on Reels, which would allow for more traditional ad revenue share for creators’ short-form videos.
Head of Facebook Tom Alison hinted at this transition in a blog post earlier this week.
“Over the years we’ve built one of the most robust monetization offerings of any creator app, so that creators can earn money in ways that make the most sense for them,” Alison writes.
“This year, we’re focused on adapting and enhancing these tools for short-form video. We’ll continue expanding our ads on Facebook Reels tests to help more creators earn ad revenue for their Reels and grow virtual gifting via Stars on Reels.”
Short-form video content is inherently harder to monetize because of the lack of in-stream ads. In 2021, YouTube similarly introduced a $100 million fund that paid creators to post content on its TikTok-clone YouTube Shorts. However, YouTube Shorts moved to a traditional ad revenue share model last year.
In January, Instagram head Adam Mosseri admitted that the platform that once claimed it was no longer a photo-sharing app made a mistake and pushed Reels too hard to its users last year.
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