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Get Paid to Watch Videos & Ads? Myth vs. Reality In 2024

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Earning passive income by “watching” videos or ads — usually by letting them play in the background on your computer while you do something else — used to be a popular way to make money on reward sites like Swagbucks.

Unfortunately, most sites have discontinued the feature, and the ones that still offer it pay pennies per hour.

Beyond rewards sites, many TikTok videos claim you can make $45 per hour (or more!) by tagging videos for Netflix. But we researched that claim and found that while “Netflix tagger” jobs are real, they’re all but impossible to get hired for — and they require years of entertainment industry experience. 

Here’s how much you can make with the few remaining platforms that pay you for watching videos, plus a few ideas for side hustles that involve watching shows and movies.

Evaluating The Remaining Video-Watching Reward Sites

Here are the results from our most recent round of research, conducted in May 2024:

Platform NamePays For Watching Videos?
PrizeRebelYes
InstaGCYes
EarnablyYes
SwagbucksNo
InboxDollarsNo
MyPointsNo
KashKickNo
FusionCashNo
HoneyGainNo
FreecashNo
iRazooOut of business
AdWalletOut of business
SuccessBuxOut of business

Here’s what we learned about the three reward sites that still pay for watching videos, after giving each one a test run:

  • PrizeRebel (Review): Features videos from PixelPoint TV, where each ad watched earns you 3 cents. I watched a nearly 4-minute comedian interview that included 30-second ads at both the start of the video and every minute, for a total viewing time of 6 minutes. I was paid 12 cents, which translates to an hourly rate of about $1.20.
  • InstaGC (Review): Also hosts videos from PixelPoint TV, and offers the exact same earnings, viewing time requirements, and payment mechanics structure as PrizeRebel (3 cents per ad).
  • Earnably: Features videos from both PixelPoint TV and Loot.TV (the same provider that Swagbucks once used). Unfortunately, we earned just $0.75 per hour during our testing. 

It’s important to remember that these hourly earnings don’t include time spent on things like clicking through to the video and loading the site, so you can expect to make even less. 

Plus, you can’t run these videos passively, because new videos appear every few minutes and you have to click to watch them.  

So in the end, this is simply not a worthwhile way to make money online.

While online surveys are not high-paying, the best survey sites allow you to earn more than $1.20 (around $5 per hour on average). There are also micro job sites where you can earn a higher rate.

Better Ways to Make Money Watching Videos

Watching ads online isn’t worth your time, but the side hustles below offer legitimate ways to make money. They’re more difficult to get started with, but they all offer reasonable earning potential.

Audit Movie Theaters

Theater auditing is one type of mystery shopping, which is when companies pay people to go into retail stores and evaluate customer service, cleanliness, selection and product quality.

There are several types of movie theater mystery shopping assignments, but they usually require visiting a theater within a specific timeframe and making sure that the theater is playing the correct movie trailers.

Here’s a list of some of the types of assignments offered: 

  • Trailer checks: Make sure the right trailers are played before the feature film.
  • Open checks: Count the number of attendees at specified showtimes (it’s called “open” because the theater knows you’re doing it).
  • Blind checks: Secretly count the number of attendees at specified showtimes.
  • Advertisement checks: Take notes on the ads that run before the trailers come on.
  • Sneak checks: Attend a pre-release screening of a film and take notes on the audience’s reaction.
  • Comprehensive checks: All of the above.

Mystery shopping is a real side hustle, and we wrote a complete beginner’s guide based on one of our writers’ personal experiences.

If you’re interested you should check out Market Force, which is a well-known mystery shopping agency that specializes in movie theater audits. 

Typical pay is around $8 to $15 per assignment. Keep in mind that in the case of trailer checks, you’re not required to stay for the entire movie. (And Market Force’s terms of service prohibit you from doing so.) So if you’re able to cluster multiple assignments back to back, it’s possible to earn a solid hourly rate.

Write Subtitles

If you’ve spent any time at all on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, then you have a sense of just how much video content is produced on a daily basis. 

Content creators need to add subtitles to their videos to make them useful for people who browse with their device’s volume turned down (as well as to make them accessible for people with hearing challenges).

Many creators hire freelancers to take care of this task for them.

For the easiest projects, you can expect to earn about minimum wage with basic video editing skills. If you bring some type of added value to the table — such as the ability to translate the audio into a different language, or create video graphics along with the captions — then you can command significantly better rates. 

The best website for finding this type of gig is Upwork, which is the largest freelance marketplace on the web.

If you’re interested, check out our guide to getting your first job on Upwork, which goes over everything you need to know to get started on the site. 

Review Movies and TV Shows

In addition to the fact that this option allows you to watch almost anything you want, it also has the highest earning potential of any option on this list.

Here are a couple of different ways to make money by watching and reviewing movies and TV shows:

Become a freelance writer and get paid to write for websites

There are thousands of blogs and news sites that pay writers for TV and film content, including not only reviews but also things like live blogs and episode recaps. 

You don’t need any experience to get started, but this is one of the more competitive freelance writing niches. So check out our beginner’s guide to freelance writing, and be aware that you may need to write a few articles for free to build up a portfolio prior to getting paid gigs.

Start a blog and publish your own content

You don’t have to be a tech whiz, as starting a blog is cheap and easy. Plus, there are at least 10 realistic ways to make money as a blogger

But you do need to have a little bit of patience and discipline, because it usually takes between 6 and 12 months to see any traffic. (And you can’t make any money without traffic.) 

Additionally, there’s no guarantee that you’ll make money at all. Being successful as a blogger requires a commitment to writing new content over time, and you’ll probably make some mistakes along the way. 

That’s why one of our favorite strategies is to start out as a freelance writer and gain some first-hand experience in your area of interest. You’ll get insights into how a successful site goes about producing content, you’ll sharpen your skills as a writer, and if you get a byline on your articles, you’ll build up name recognition that will help you launch your own site later down the road. 

Of course, you don’t have to choose one or the other: you can start a blog today and also start looking for writing jobs on a site like Upwork. 

If you’re interested in learning more, sign up for my free email course titled “How To Make Your First $1,000 Blogging.” It goes over everything from the basics to more advanced strategies, including all the stuff I wish I had known when I was just starting out.

Free Email Course “How To Make Your First $1,000 Blogging”

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R.J. Weiss
R.J. Weiss, founder of The Ways To Wealth, has been a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ since 2010. Holding a B.A. in finance and having completed the CFP® certification curriculum at The American College, R.J. combines formal education with a deep commitment to providing unbiased financial insights. Recognized as a trusted authority in the financial realm, his expertise is highlighted in major publications like Business Insider, New York Times, and Forbes.

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