YouTube announced Thursday that the providers of some of its most popular user-generated content have been given the opportunity to become its financial partners — and actually make money from their videos.

YouTube will reward content providers
whose videos draw the most viewers
and advertising revenue.
Between 20 and 40 users have been offered partnership agreements, the site said, similar to those YouTube has with professional content providers like CBS and NBC. The networks are paid a portion of the advertising revenue their material attracts.

The opportunities allow the site to recognize and reward the creativity of the YouTube community, Jamie Byrne, YouTube’s product marketing director, told CNN.

"User-generated content has evolved from simple amateur video into high-quality work that is massing subscribers and creating user celebrities," he said.

YouTube said in a statement that because the users "have built and sustained large persistent audiences through the creation of engaging videos, their content has become attractive for advertisers, which has helped them earn the opportunity to participate on YouTube as a partner."

Partnership agreements were offered to users based on monthly viewer statistics and name recognition.

YouTube wouldn’t disclose the details of the agreements, but said the content providers will be paid based on the number of times their videos are watched. The agreement doesn’t prevent the filmmakers from posting videos on other Web sites.

Hope the company is set for a deluge, because anybody who makes a video thinks it’s just ahh-some, don’t they?

Come to think of it, this is going to be revolutionary. The prospect of pay-for-play could create a whole new class of videomaker, not a dweller of the Ivory Tower of broadcast but a middle-class erstwhile vid-volunteer who will suddenly be awash in cash. With the prospect of a hit video that pays big, this adds a whole new element to the uploading jones. Roll the open, cue the upheaval.