Iran's state TV, which is controlled by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has been collecting advertising revenues in hard currency on YouTube, Shahrvand newspaper reported in Tehran on June 25.
Based on the report, the Iranian state TV IRIB (The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting), has begun showcasing, marketing and webcasting its TV sitcoms and some other popular programs for millions of Persian-speakers in diaspora.
According to Shahrvand, the IRIB may still be testing the waters to make sure that making money on YouTube is feasible.
The report says IRIB's entertainment channel iFilm has a YouTube channel with over 25,000 followers. The video's uploaded on the channel have been seen 15,000,000 times as of late June.
An IRIB talent show, Asr-e Jadid [The Modern Age] has 10,000 followers on YouTube, and has been viewed over 3,000,000 times.
Some popular TV series are available on YouTube in high-definition HD quality. Viewers can watch these programs for free, but IRIB apparently gets its share of the advertising revenues.
According to Shahrvand, it is not only the Iranian state TV that is making money via YouTube. There are media companies such as Rasaneh Novin [Modern Media] that present Iranian TV series on YouTube on their channels by cutting the credits and information about producers.
Iran is not part of the global copyright conventions, but there are laws that protect the rights of Iranian producers inside Iran. This explains why new media companies hide the real identity of actual producers.
Based on the report published by Shahrvand, YouTube Channels can claim a share of advertising revenues if they have more than 1,000 followers and more than 4,000 minutes of their videos have been viewed.
Advertising fees are usually calculated based on the number of views, monthly views, number of clicks, etc. Those who upload the videos can add additional advertising in captions and runners underneath the video and this gives them another source of income, although in the long run, advertising in this way is believed to repel viewers.
Shahrvand has estimated that every instalment of the Modern Age talent show can benefit from up to $22,000 in advertising revenue based on an average of 174,000 views and 25 advertising tags.
According to social media tracking website Social Blade this channel can make up to a hundred thousand dollars a year. However if the channel grows in popularity this number could be much higher.
Based on the information provided on the YouTube channel it is registered in Austria. The channel links to another channel with children's cartoons in Persian named DirinDirin.
But how can U.S. sanctions affect this? YouTube is known to be very strict about copyright rules and unique products and no other channel can make money on other channels' content at least easily. On the other hand YouTube and Google respect U.S. laws.
However, according to Shahrvand, channels' managers based outside Iran can still claim the advertising money. Even Iranian State TV's YouTube channels are officially based outside Iran. For instance, the Modern Age channel is officially based in Austria and iFilm is registered in Afghanistan although everyone knows that all iFilm output in any language are aired and uploaded from Sa'adat Abad in northern Tehran.
The aim for state-run channels could be making money in hard currency, claiming new audiences, and access to international markets.
Shahrvand noted at the end of the report that YouTube is officially banned inside Iran and ordinary people cannot access it to watch or upload video, and only well connected companies can benefit from the opportunity it provides.