What Oprah Might Learn from YouTube This Week

Oprah did a show about YouTube yesterday. Ironically, I’m not sure many regular YouTube viewers and creators watched it. The show took the typical “mainstream media” angle of YouTube, and missed some of the more subtle but important aspects of online video:

  1. Community (there is an entire social fabric at the center of YouTube that has unwritten rules Oprah broke this week).
  2. Media’s reduced barriers to entry (Oprah spent a career becoming one of the most powerful people in entertainment, but now amateurs can find global audiences almost instantly with just a camera and computer).
  3. Changing patterns of media consumption (Oprah would have covered YouTube years ago if she was interested in the “new media” angle, so her timing suggests she’s starting to appreciate the widespread impact of online video).

Candidly, her show and YouTube homepage takeover felt to most of us like rich Aunt Oprah squeezing the cheek of her cute but helpless nephew Online Video.

nalts youtube oprahWant proof? Her homepage video was punished with a 3 out of 5 rating, and the comments that were going to be “moderated” never appeared at all. My short critical vlog about her is now the second top-rated comedy of the day (after a condom commercial, but how do you top that). It isn’t that funny, but I think I tapped a nerve.

And when one of YouTube’s top partners, “What The Buck” (who I am convinced will go mainstream media imminently) appeared to “suck up” to Oprah, another popular YouTuber (Sxephil) did a bitingly funny video about it. Notice, Oprah, the difference between these two creators- setting, speech cadence, volume, packaging. Both of these are in the top 10 best-rated entertainment videos of the day. One wants to be a star and the other just wants to be hot with the chicks. Of course Mr. Pregnant loves Oprah. Just had to get that out there.

Let’s give Oprah an 7-part online-video makeover:

  1. Oprah- we wanted to see you in a more authentic atmosphere. Not talking loud and fast, and sitting before loads of television monitors. In your dressing room or house in a relaxed setting “being yourself.” Her debut video on YouTube was anything but that.
  2. Oh for goodness sakes, who puts this kind of language on their channel page? “Please note that, while we invite your comments, due to the number of comments received, only selected comments will be posted at the discretion of the channel manager.” Let’s try this, “Hi, and welcome to my channel. I hope you understand that I’ve been getting a lot of messages an comments this week, and will try to respond and approve as many as I can — good and bad!” It’s got to come in her voice, not the child of a PR person who married an attorney.
  3. oprah youtubeThe ten videos Oprah selected for her YouTube “editor’s picks” included four of her own. That’s like giving away toasters to her studio audience, then giving herself a toaster, a Weber grill, chocolate-dipped roses and a new jet. The rest (with an exception or two like this one) were videos that most of us have seen dozens of time. They’re literally online-video cliches.
  4. Oprah- you’ve learned a lot through your many controversies from the children to the ranchers. One thing tough about YouTube is that you’re a step closer to your fans and those that love to hate. It’s hard to moderate comments, but find an intern to do it for you. Let them through even when they’re negative- and respond to some of them. The camera talks back in this media, and it’s faster than the tabloids.
  5. Deglamorize your channel. You’ve got a commercial looking page with an airbrushed picture and a banner that looks like you paid someone $500 per hour to design (plus “out of pocket.”) Seriously- who are you trying to be? Renetto or WhattheBuck?
  6. Talk and listen to YouTube. I’m sure you spent time with the public relations people. Did you talk to any of YouTube’s community people? I’ll bet they were cringing when they saw this. Next time, ask them for some advice.
  7. We want to see Oprah with other YouTubers in non broadcast settings. Have a lunch with HappySlip and all will be forgiven.

44 Replies to “What Oprah Might Learn from YouTube This Week”

  1. WOW…I couldn’t have said it better myself!!! Great blog.

    I love Oprah…but was disappointed by the way she introduced herself on youtube in a real Hollywood way. Interaction with the community in a natural environment would have been a great start.

  2. Sound advice. The “rich aunt Oprah” analogy was spot-on.

    And her posting videos of the bulldog-on-the-skateboard and the otters-holding-hands just goes to show how far behind mainstream media is in spotting and developing future trends.

    To paraphrase Jethro Tull, I’m really turned off by television… and vice versa.

  3. Well I have been pretty ticked off that Oprah has had control of the featured videos all week. They are usually a haven where I can take a few minutes to relax at work (its my non-smoking smoking break), but since she took them over I have had to turn to other sites. If this is happening with other users to then youtube is pretty much forcing its user base to look elsewhere for entertainment. Well unless they are concerned with who will be on Oprah in November.

  4. She may have a right to be on youtube, but we have a right to express our feelings as well. If this is what youtube is going to turn into then they might as well have porno videos too and totally drag the site down!

    Oprah has her fame and money. She doesn’t need any more exposure.

  5. Warning – serious rant follows. Read at your own risk.

    Oprah needs to realize that she will be held to a higher standard by the youtube community, because everybody expects the commercial sites to do exactly the same kind of stuff she’s doing right now — and their worst expectations are coming true. So if she wants to stand out, she needs to bend over backward to do things here that she wouldn’t ordinarily do in other business ventures she’s got going on.

    My personal biggest beef — she needs to allow ALL comments to be automatically posted, then go back and take out the true hater comments (if she thinks it’s necessary) — just like most of the rest of us. Right now all she’s got is about 10 suck-up comments up for a video viewed over 1 million times. (Even I get more comments than that, and my view numbers are pretty low.) It’s laughable.

    Funnily enough, each of the comments on her latest video that have made it through has been marked as spam, which makes them difficult to view, but I did, and they’re your garden variety Oprah-suck-up type comments. I personally think the spam marking is pretty funny, because it conveys the disdain youtubers feel for her current tactics. Or maybe I think it’s funny because I’m kind of a bitch.

    My final comment on the comment issue – that arrogant disclaimer she’s got up there about how only a few comments will be permitted based on the “discretion of the channel manager”. Well, la-di-dah!!! Aren’t you the special one!!! Please excuse me while I get down on my knees and grovel before Her Bloated-Ego-ness, the sublime Miss Oprah Winfrey.

    Makes me want to hold my nose so I don’t have to smell the shit being waved underneath it.

    Next, she should tone down the “slickness” of her videos to make it look like it’s truly an honest look at oprah and her regular life (as if “regular” and “Oprah” belonged in the same sentence, HA!). The current videos show an airbrushed version of how she wants to be portrayed in public, even when not on her show. I can already get that if I watch Oprah on TV, whether it’s her show or her road trip with BFF Gail or her African adventures – BORING!!

    Finally, she should QUIT FEATURING ALREADY FEATURED VIDEOS!!!! Look for some diamonds in the rough. In other words, someone on her staff should really delve into youtube and get a sense of the community before picking videos to feature. It takes about 1/1000th percent of brain power to feature the dancing comedian – he’s identified as the most popular video of all time. Most youtubers are not focused on that. Personally, I think her staff should pick one or two videos to use as her featured video on her channel page – us regular folks, not NBC or Ford Models or the other commercial sites, and not the big-name partners like Lisa Nova and Renetto and Smosh.

    All of the above is subject to change if MDJ disagrees with anything I’ve said here, or more importantly, if Oprah invites me to her favorite things show. What a sellout I am.

  6. congratulations nalts!

    this is the kind of straight talking i was looking for. new media has given us great and unprescedented opportunities but now old (or big…or bloated!) media has realised they’ve lost our attention, and therefore what they really want – our money – we have a fight on our hands. great to see that although you may be a viral video whore you are not a sell out!

  7. About the above rant – she should be picking one or two videos PER WEEK to use as her featured video on her channel page.

  8. great analysis… you’re spot on in my opinion. I love the way that people say they love youtube and they want to be a part of it and then talk about a skateboarding dog! She has totally missed the point, but who knows she may yet redeem herself… but after 25 years on TV she may be that old “dog” (no offence intended) that can’t learn new tricks.

  9. Oh…and I love the way you introduce Mr. Pregnants video. hehe

    Quote of the day: “Candidly, her show and YouTube homepage takeover felt to most of us like rich Aunt Oprah squeezing the cheek of her cute but helpless nephew Online Video.”

    I love it! šŸ˜€

    IF Oprah decided to come onto YouTube casually, from her home and interacted with the community…even going to a gathering (as if that would ever happen LOL) she could end up in lots of drama and um, lawsuits over silly things…

    Though the comment thing STILL bugs me. I don’t understand why they can not open the comments and allow video responses. I rated all her videos with a 1 star, (yes, it’s bitchy) …I noticed all 10 comments approved, were marked as spam. LMAO The community speaks!!!!!!!

    I love sukatra’s rant…hehe
    what a sellout!!!! ;D

  10. Opras like a crazy lady really, bent on ruling the world via youtube … its true …

    See lisanovas new song?

  11. I agree with you completely. But not only should she not be choosing to feature those things, YouTube shouldn’t even ALLOW her to feature such things. If any one of us were guest editor, we couldn’t do that. If they want to bring attention to her new channel, YouTube should decide to just feature her crappy welcome video instead of allowing “her” (I’m guessing she didn’t even do it herself) to be “guest editor” by featuring things we’ve all seen or are from her.

    I hope that she and her minions get the point from our ratings of the videos and comments that are approved. Oprah’s behavior on this site simply is not tolerable.

  12. Great blog!! I have nothing against Oprah but this “takeover” has gotten a little out of hand. And I thought the same exact thing when I saw that 40% of the videos she featured were her own. For someone that has always seemed to be so giving, that was self centered. A radio show mentioned Oprah’s takeover on youtube and mentioned the timing of it is uncanny. Like she’s trying to get back in good graces after her latest drama, but she’s only getting in the ‘bad’ graces of the active members of the youtube community.

    Thanks for the great blog!

  13. I think it’s interesting that all of Oprah’s videos and her guest editor features have now been taken off the home page altogether. I wonder if that’s in reaction to the negative backlash, or if all along it was just a promo for her show yesterday. Probably the latter. I hate it when people rant about how google ruined youtube and youtube now sucks and is going down the tubes, etc., but man, that realllllly pisses me off.

  14. Thank-YOU!!!!
    I agree so much with every single thing you said on here. Especially about the videos that she picked. We’ve seen the damn skateboarding dog a gazillion of times…so….why is it on the front page?
    Cause she knows NOTHING about the youtube community, and thus proves her wanting to be on youtube just because she realized that “hey online videos are a hip and powerful tool!”

    cause she’s a tool
    LIK OH EM EFF GEE i pwned hr.

  15. GET OPRAH THE HELL OFF OF YOUTUBE!!!! shes already syndicated in 213 countries! who gives a F*ck if shes had the #1 rated talk show for 21 straight years! what talent does she actually have other than asking questions? and while youre at it,GET ALL THE DOUCHEBAG POLITICIANS OF YOUTUBE!!! that crap is all over tv 24/7! see my link for the type of videos i wanna see on youtube,BTW,looks like the partners program is finally open to everyone!! its about freaking time!!!

  16. Oprah’s channel does not belong on YouTube; at least in its current mutation. I agree with you, Kevin; I feel like she’s looking down on us “peons” on YouTube and insinuating that YT will now be all the better for having her around. Never did much like the woman and now I like her even less.

    The videos she featured are so old! When I first got to the feature page, and before I noticed that they were featured by Oprah, my first thought was “What the hell are the otters doing on the feature page? It’s been months since I first saw that video!” She needs to get a clue and start looking for those videos that the rest of us might never find if they weren’t featured. That’s how I first found Nalts, when he was featured for “Viral Video Genius”. I’m sure by this point I would have discovered you anyway, Nalts, now that you are so popular, but I found you sooner through the feature page.

    YT doesn’t need TV and movie stars promoting their channels. They get enough exposure already. YT needs to promote its own stars (and non-stars) and leave the big media stars to their own devices.

    We don’t need no stinking Oprah!!

  17. She’s only going to ever feature “cute” videos or things like a baby giggling at a kitten, or something, because that’s who Oprah is. That means that I’m now 100 steps back from getting featured, and that pisses me off. I’ll probably never get featured when Oprah’s in charge because my videos aren’t necessarily cute, or appropriate for middle aged Women. I miss Lisasimpson

  18. Okay I watched the LisaNova video, and it’s very funny, but it’s missing one thing — weinergate.

  19. Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. SHE FEATURED A VIDEO OF A DOG DRIVING A CAR FOR GOD SAKE! I respect Edbassmaster and everything, but that video totally totally isn’t feature- worthy. Like I said, Oprah’s ALL about the cuteness factor.

  20. Oprah will never be accepted by the you tube community. She’s waaaay to mainstream. Oprah represents everything tubers ran away from, she is saccharin.

    But this is a big boost for you tube/google it will draw all the J Crew shoppers like a small tsunami. youtube being a reaction interaction venue will gather more passive viewers and I think that is what they are shooting for.

  21. You know what REALLY grinds my gears about Oprah? Her flipping huge ego. Ok, Oprah, we get it. You Opened a school for African girls, you’re rich, you’re the best person who ever lived. Thanks for making the average Joe Reubnick feel special about himself. I also hate how she’s featuring her own videos. She’s already famous enough, and youtube seems to be sucking up to her an awful lot. The only videos she features are things that nobody cares about, or little cute dogs driving, or silly little babies giggling. No “Reubnick riding an inflatable couch”, no “Sofakingcoolvids talking about an ideal video”, no “Virtual Wenrog’s adventures in Beefville”, nothing original is being featured, and I hate it. Oprah is a jerk, I don’t like her at all, and I have no respect for her, her multi gajillion dollars, or her huge ego. She can go lock herself in a bathroom. we need somebody who understands youtube featuring videos again. At least Lisasimpson didn’t feature 4 her videos, out of the 10 videos there are all together.

    Ok, I’m done now, seriously, I’m sorry, I’m just mad. Forgive me, Oprah-holics.

  22. I’m not really bashing O, I think she might even feature a Nalts or two – but she is never going to cross over into the daring or abstract. If she promotes youtube on her TV show she will get tons of complaints from her viewers for all the F bombs dangling. My concern is, will youtube curb tuber’s enthusiasm?

    wait till they finds the you tube porn!

  23. I totally agree. If I could see Oprah with a tripod and handycam talking without the use of an auto cue then I would be more than happy to see her on YouTube. But this is just an online extension to the Oprah show. If I got to see Oprah acting as the other partners do by making good content and interacting in the community she’s joined I might have even subscribed to her channel. Unfortunately I don’t really have an interest in the Oprah show, so the fact her channel has been pushed on me from the front page is just annoying.

  24. Yeah, honestly. I love Oprah, but COME ON! Oprah on YouTube?!?!? Seriously… Is there anything Oprah doesn’t have her hand in?? I think it’s a conspiracy: Oprah is trying to take over the world!

    Nah, but she needs to realize that YouTube is a REAL community, we don’t glitz up ourselves and have professional video editors going through our clips to make it just perfect. I know Oprah is a busy woman, but YouTube is about what YOU can do not your techies! Otherwise it would be called TechieTube…

  25. In this OTube fiasco, Oprah reminds ME of a 50+ year-old suddenly single aunt (cougar) who is trying too hard to be hip, too hard to be modern, flirting with twentysomething technology without a clue to the current culture. Poor Oprah, she is insulated by other fiftysomethings who have no clue either. Hollywood types: Bob Hope groupthink careerists.

    It’s kind of sad, isn’t it? The twentysomethings all reject the flirtations of the old woman, are grossed out by it, giggle behind her back at her ‘hip’ 1980’s lingo. I think we should run a “SAVE OPRAH” campaign. We could save her from embarrassing herself. We could. I envision a hundred videos from a hundred Youtubers, sitting Oprah down (figuratively) counseling her to just be herself, to act her age, poor dear.

  26. i don’t make videos on youtube, i don’t get to spend much time on youtube BUT my gripe continues that the funny, original people that make videos in their bedroom with a webcam (ok so i got that from paperlilies), editing it THEMSELVES are so much harder to find now. I really have to dig hard to find them. I would watch her channel if she made videos herself, made an effort at the content and respected the core users/citizens (yes, paperlilies again) who have made YT what it is today

  27. addendum:
    “Iā€™m not really bashing O, I think she might even feature a Nalts or two” – She’d be crazy not to!

    Oprah with a camera? Oh come on now, she’d break a nail!

    Marquisdejolie: Are you kidding!? Don’t you know how sexy $1 billion looks on an older woman? It’s just as sexy on O as it is on Fred Thompson and Michael Douglas.

    The inevitable is here, gold is what drives this machine, that is the cold reality. When google bought youtube did you really think they did it for the little guy? The youtube wild west days are coming to an end. If you want something different or preserve what you got, better get you some of that yellow.

  28. Hi, I’m Reynaldo, of course! Giggle, I just want to clarify one thing! I did not have sex with that woman? Oh a BJ counts as sex? Wait is it a lie if I was just not telling the truth!

    Oprah! Oprah! Oprah, why aren’t there any white kids in your African School? Just kidding!

    Seriously folks; In her defense: Oprah has done some wonderful things in this World! I don’t really care for Oprah! But I do think she is a magnificent human being!

    I do have to say that it would be damn near impossible for her to handle her own comments!

    C’mon people, I had a peek at Nalt’s channel when he left it logged in on someone’s notebook at South Tube, BTW I unsubscribed a bunch of people just FYI, but none the less, he had so damn many messages, friend invites and his e-mail I could just imagine.

    In fact, case in point I applied for the position of au pair and he never even gave me the courtesy of a response! So here I am an unemployed Vietnam Veteran with all these child rearing skills going to waste!

    Well actually I couldn’t have taken the position, I have been to the Nalt’s compound and during the visit had to frequently shake off flashbacks of Nam, he lives so far in the woods I thought I was back in the jungle!

    Fortunately when it was time to leave I was snapped into reality as his wife had him frisk me before I could get in the car and go! I had to return those Gorgeous Orange Crocs, only to have Kelley (NutCheese) retrieve them at a later date, okay well I got a little off track here, back to Oprah! The Ebony Queen of Mass Media!

    Personally I don’t give a rat’s ass what she does on you tube I am not going to subscribe to her because I see far too much of her already!

    But I would consider her for President if she ran providing she had a good VP candidate like, hmmm maybe Mike Skehan? He would be replacing Cheney so it would work out, you know the Skehan scowl we have all come to love.

    Just think how nice it would be: Da dum de da da da da ….Ladies and Gentleman the Vice President of the United States:

    Hi Hello Friends, Hi, Hello, I’ve missed you! Hi Hello friend I’m Michael Skehan, and your not! Well here I am off course again! Dammit!

    Anyway we should all learn to love one another eat Captain Brownies medical marijuana brownies and enjoy all the luxuries American’s have, we are a very fortunate lot!

    Oprah just wants to be loved and happy like everyone else, but when you have soooo much money everyone loves to hate and criticize you, and the truth is it’s easy to hate a rich successful intelligent black woman! Wait, why? We should be like hey you go girl! I am glad you made it to the top, that means any of us can!

    I think the problem really is; YouTube feels like it is ours, we feel all powerful with you tube, suddenly you feel like a celebrity just like Oprah and hey none of us wants the real celebrities taking that away from us!

    At Washington Square Park in N.Y.C. on July 7th, 2007 I could not believe how many people walked up to me and knew me from You Tube!

    It was the most amazing feeling I have ever had in my life, well not really the most amazing feeling!

    The MOST AMAZING feeling would be when one of my children had their arms around my neck kissed me and called me Daddy! Yea that beats everything hands down! But, it did rank up there at the top!

    So Oprah or no Oprah I like You Tube, I find little to complain about, and it’s FREE! Beats the $104 a month we spend on Satellite TV all to hell and I have made friends that will last for the rest of my life!

    So I am not going to let Oprah get me down, and I am not going to let my small subscriber base bother me, or the low views on the videos, because I like what people say and I like that I feel loved by so many of you!

    Oh there are lots of things I would like to change in the World, but You Tube would be at the bottom of that list for sure;

    1. Darfur
    3. Stop the Killing
    4. Stop the Bush Regime
    5. Stop Nalt’s from wearing Crocs
    6. Stop the hate everywhere
    7. Feed the hungry
    8. Redistribute America’s Wealth! Who needs three homes? Who needs so much money they don’t know what to do with it?
    9. Realize Martin Luther King’s dreams
    10. Make NutCheese the International Goodwill Ambassador, let’s all fart in harmony:


    Remember the World we live in is much bigger than YOU TUBE it’s a small part of it, let’s not forget it!

    Let’s also not forget this is America and Oprah is free to join YouTube anyway she wants! This is just my opinion! Thanks for listening if you did, and it’s cool if you didn’t!


    ps…this calm and unexcited rant is brought to you through Anger Management, a good way to stay out of trouble!

  29. First of all, Nalts… I want to say thank you for standing up for all of us who feel the same way about Oprah – which is this. I wish Oprah would get hit by a massively big semi truck that just jackknifed going 125 miles per hour on the free way. After she was hit, a greyhound bus going the other direction jumped over the median flattening her once again.

    Two weeks later, Oprah’s carcass lies about the freeway being eaten by vultures.

    Seriously, I’m so freaking sick of that ho. What she did was a huge insult to everyone on YouTube and the public in general. I freaking can’t stand Oprah! Ugh! Nasty! Fat! Ho! Go! Away!

    Oprah… if you or the losers that work for you are listening… go fuck youselves! šŸ˜‰

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