Does YouTube Care About Amateurs Anymore? Not in Phase 7.

[Update Oct 8, 2012: See comments around my video on this subject, and see Urgo’s response which reminds us that “amateur” is someone who isn’t paid… so that has almost always excluded many of us).

YouTube alienates amateur users by courting pros,” wrote the Chicago Tribune. The example is Ryan Douthit’s “Driving Sports TV” channel, which has seen a drop of income by about 90%.

My 2 cents: I’ve also seen my YouTube revenue plummet compared to last year. I’m earning about 10% what I earned in my peak period in 2011. Views have dropped from hundreds of thousands daily… to maybe 40K per day. It’s disappointing but I understand why. YouTube needed amateurs to migrate from a collection of copyright infringements… to something that may rival TV.

More from the Tribune:

A year ago this month, YouTube embarked on an initiative to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire original, professional content in an effort to compete for ad dollars against traditional television networks, digital streaming services such as Netflix and rival Internet companies like AOL and Yahoo…. The tweaks, which lowered the number of overall views across the site but boosted the average time viewers spent in each video, prompted many of YouTube’s amateur providers to cry foul, arguing that the move favored longer, professionally produced content. A group of young users started circulating the #saveyoutube hashtag on Twitter and, in May, when a Google employee sought feedback on the situation on the Google+ social network, she received more than 150 responses from users, many concerned and some bitterly angry.

Yes YouTube is moving pro. It’s funding pros, it’s featuring TV-like content, and it’s favoring it to advertisers.

This represents another shift in the phases of YouTube- I’m working on a visual that chronicles these changes, but here’s the sneak preview:

  • Phase 1: Copyright Infringement ‘R Us: YouTube became the go-to spot in 2005-2006 for copyright infringing “on demand” content. SNL clips, SNL clips, SNL clips.
  • Phase 2: Viral time! Numa Numa and Evolution of Dance. Just a handful of videos get enormous views — YouTube features just a few videos a day, and emphasizes “most viewed” content. Later YouTube would “micro feature” by showcasing a revolving collection of videos.
  • Phase 3: Why Don’t You Stay a While: YouTube gets beaten by Viacom and acquired by Google. Revenue sharing slowly rolls out, and people begin to use YouTube increasingly to “surf” and “graze” versus just to “watch & go.”
  • Phase 4: Age of Amateur Vlogger: Many weblebrities spawned in 2007-2009. The most-subscribed channels were regular Joe’s.
  • Phase 5: Semi Pro Time… amateurs “up their game” with higher production quality. Vlogs turn more to shows.
  • Phase 6: YouTube the Video Jute Box. Music takes over as the most-subscribed and most-viewed.
  • Phase 7: Digital TV. Pro, Pro, Pro. Long format & pro content > amateurs, who have served their purpose.

20 thoughts on “Does YouTube Care About Amateurs Anymore? Not in Phase 7.”

  1. I really believe this Change started in 2008-2009 when meetups became more organized, the cast system was shaping itself into what we know today. frankly i think youtube played it smart, they could shove the community off to the side and still pretend to acknowledge them but from afar, let networks take the brunt of things youtube didnt want to deal with so it can focus on what makes money. youtube has ALWAYS yearned to be TV. Had we all in the earlier days not been so enthused about easy money, and invested our video to make youtube better, this would be a wealth of talent. but instead, the community splintered, then slowly but surely started to dissolve. had we been a real community and stuck together, we may have been able to avoid all this. i think the OTHER smart play youtube did was this whole network thing, again they could “OUT SOURCE” partners, let some other entity take care of the needs of the few and forget the many. mark my words there will come a day when there wont be a YOUTUBE partnership as we know it, its not cost effective for youtube/google, it never has been because until only recently, no one in the past ever rose to the occasion to make better videos. thats just my two cents i might b wrong…or feeling like big bird. hmm

  2. @Nalts I am sad to say I agree. But I still feel if groups like YTO could get there heads out of there but and start acting like it was when you came up with the idea and Jason took it and ran with it. The YTO could still bust up a lot of what Youtube is trying to do.

  3. Nalts, you’ve hit the nail on head here. YouTube is in constant evolution and many amateur video makers who were the first players on the scene have been either set back or sidelined since the March 14, 2012 algorithm changes. My daily average views have went from about 80K down to 20K but I’m still driving on and cranking out videos.

    YouTube has long needed to create a steady revenue source, and Pro content is probably an easier sell w/higher CPM to advertisers than amateur content.

    Hopefully, YouTube still plans to keep the YOU in YouTube and will give we amateurs a chance in the next round of algorithm updates. Wishful thinking? What’s phase #8 Nalts? Are we all doomed?

    I wonder if signing with a network would increase my earnings but at the same time I have difficulty understanding their contracts and trusting them enough to give up Adsense.

    Thanks for the great read Nalts!

  4. Yup, full cycle. Just like movies, radio, television, internet… peoples Nalts is peoples, right?
    Is popularity, is fame, is greed…peoples is peoples. How do your buddies survive you say? Well, says I, they stays and fights or they cuts and runs. Youz and the family? We be chillin’ in the Swiss Alps till the next big thing. XD
    P.S. Only take back the nice ones, the non-fanny showers, they weren’t trash to begin with. Character is important, see?
    P.P.S. Pass the popcorn please? (Admit it, you see past the crazy, yes?)

  5. I’m going to have to agree with you on this, Nalts.

    Every change, every update, everything about YouTube no longer says, “Hey watch this person who spent days or weeks on this one video” but rather the, “Hey check out this video by a company pretending to be a person whom we professionally produced for the world to watch and just ignore the amateur vloggers.”

    I was able to get into this year’s Vidcon and yes I did see a lot of my favorite YouTubers, but there was also a lot more emphasis on the networks and less of the individual.

    Yeah, there are “Youtube rockstars” and there probably always will be. But those who were there at the beginning may not be around much longer and that is a sad thing.

    I hope YouTube does something to help keep the amateur video makers happy and will do something to get viewers back to the amateurs soon. Otherwise we who make videos will need to find something better to do with our free time.

  6. Created a video response with my thoughts, at least some of them. Completely different from the one I did yesterday. I almost trashed this one too but decided it was good enough. :)

  7. The Pro Content is an epic fail. No one is watching. I make shows for YouTube and TV. The Pro companies aren’t making content that is better than TV, they are making cheaper-than-Reality-TV and worse than the cheapest Reality TV and YouTube is buying it. The companies are pocketing the money. YouTube is about to join the long line of investors in Hollywood that are waiting to get a return on investment.

  8. This is true but ya know what-at this point it’s made me to come to terms with what I ultimately want out of a life in the entertainment industry. I’m still aggressively pursuing the traditional routes outside of my YouTube life and it’s still what I’d prefer:Traditonial/”real life” fame vs. online fame. Online I’m back down to just making what makes me and my viewers happy (with just enough income to cover the costumes and stuff I like to buy-I still have the goal of getting at least $100 a month that I’ve yet to reach..but no longer are my goals stuff like “OUTRANK ANNOYING ORANGE IN VIEWS!”

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