YouTube’s New Content

The New York Times “Critics Notebook” came down hard on YouTube’s attempts to create TV-like content. See the full article here, and now some highlights…

Do you agree, or have a different thought?

  • With regular weekly shows and viewer-friendly playlists, they are indeed slightly more televisionlike than the millions of mostly homemade videos that surround them.
  • But the harder they try to resemble television, the less interesting they are.
  • All of these shows could, with minor modifications, look at home on television, and the production values on many of the new channels are comparable to those on the lower and middle regions of cable.
  • On the other hand, entire categories of these new YouTube channels — on pop culture and gossip, music, sports, women’s topics — mostly feel like imitations of what cable outlets like MTV, Spike and Bravo already do… There is also a sameness to them
  • Watching these channels, in their bland uniformity, underlines a continuing reality… there are unbridgeable differences between YouTube and television.
  • The shortness and vast abundance of videos, along with the easy but largely random nature of navigation among them, make YouTube an oddly static, timeless experience, no matter how quickly you click from one video to the next. Its channels are video archives, not places where one show follows another.

Online-Video is Looking More Like Television


Online-video is looking more and more like TV with ads, networks/studios, and a virtual monopoly.

comScore’s September data sheds some light on the non Google video-sharing sites, the top ad networks, and the top-1o channels on YouTube, all of which are professional. The biggest takeaway? The Santa María, La Niña, and La Pinta have long since landed and the corn-sharing Indians are being run off the east coast.

  • Professional content (or web studios representing amateurs) are leading the charts
  • The market remains highly centralized among one or two key players
  • Ads are now pervasive
  • YouTube is increasing its personal white-glove service among the top 100 YouTube partners (including lavish events), and moving many subordinate Partners to e-mail only deidentified support (this isn’t reflected in comScore).

Now let’s look at comScore highlights…

  1. Google/YouTube retains its leadership with 161 million unique viewers (followed by Vevo with about 57K). More importantly, it clocked in a 378 minutes per viewer, which beats Hulu’s 180 minutes. Hulu’s 27K unique viewers watched 642,000 minutes of video (YouTube’s got 18 million). Also worth noting is Microsoft and Viacom’s overtaking of Facebook and Yahoo (two sites that could have been online-video leaders)
  2. Ad networks run those prerolls and keep the online-video body flowing with life saving blood. Here are the leaders: Hulu is #1, Tremor Video ranked second overall with 811 million ad views, followed by (803 million) and BrightRoll Video Network (665 million).
  3. Professional studios rule the most-viewed channels, but note that some amateurs are represented by these players. Gaming channel Machinima ranked third with 17 million viewers, followed by Maker Studios (which has signed a number of YouTube weblebrities) with 9 million, Demand Media with 6.8 million and Revision3 with 5.4 million.

The Difference Between YouTube’s Amateur and Professional Content

What’s the primary difference between an amateur on YouTube and a professional creator? Not the production quality or style, silly. It’s the viewership.

As you see below, the most-viewed partners are almost entirely professional. Yet the most-subscribed people are almost all amateurs.

It’s a simple point, but important one: Don’t think subscriptions will necessarily lead to views or views will automatically lead to subscriptions. Unless you’re TheStation.

Most-Viewed YouTube Channels
Most-Viewed YouTube Channels

Most-Subscribed YouTube Partners
Most-Subscribed YouTube Partners

Most Popular YouTube Stars: Rankings, Stats and Trends

My last post about TheStation made me revisit the most-subscribed YouTube “stars” and channels to see what’s changed.

Who are the most-viewed, most-subscribed and most popular people on YouTube? Here are some trends, stats and sources for additional information.

First some trends:

  • We’re still seeing YouTube’s “most subscribed” list (more important than “most viewed” because it eliminates one-hit wonders) largely dominated not by professionals but individuals. In the top ten list are only 3 “professional” channels (machinima, Jonas Brothers and Universal). The rest are people like Fred, Nigahiga, ShaneDawsonTV, KevJumba, WhatTheBuckShow and VenetianPrincess. These are amateurs with recurring audiences, but only some have agents.
  • The packaged content (CollegeHumor) is not as popular as individual creators because people continue to become active on YouTube from a social context… picking their favorites as “virtual friends” as opposed to gravitating to the best content (TheOnion). I did not think this would continue to be the case in 2009, as online-video viewing moves mainstream.
  • The channels that move rapidly up this “most subscribed” list are typically spawned from already-popular channels. TheStation almost immediately reached the top 20 because the collective “web stars” promoted it. Likewise, when a popular YouTuber like ShaneDawson creates a second account (ShaneDawsonTV2) it rises quickly up the ranks. The easiest way to get noticed on YouTube quickly is by appearing in a popular creator’s video, as the top creators rarely voluntarily “shout out” (advertise) someone else’s channel.
  • As a result of the above trend, some widely known creators like Chocolate Rain singer TayZonday are falling off the top 100 list even as his views and subscribers continues to grow. Others slip because they lose touch with their fan base, or create videos less frequently. As an example, I’m happy to get about 250,000 views per day (as Nalts)… but not happy I’m always teetering at the bottom of the top 100 list.
  • The mix of most-popular is primarily “vloggers” (individuals talking to the camera), followed by musicians and comedians. Broadly speaking, your chances are higher of being a most-subscribed YouTuber if you’re Asian, sexy, funny, or gay. Toss in a few curse words and some raucous content and you’re golden.

Some resources for tracking trends and stats:

Anyone have any other sites I should add? Frankly I’m surprised there aren’t easier-to-find websites that collect and share data (WillofDC uses a website to report winners and losers, but I don’t know what it is.

Trend Spotting: Tag-Team Vlogging… Brothers, Awesome Girls, Guys, Kids and Dogs.

picture-5.pngIt’s the hottest new trends in video vlogging since ZeFrank jumped the shark. A video channel shared by multiple people, each of whom takes a certain day of the week. The possibilities are endless.

picture-4.pngThought it’s probably an art form that has roots in the 1700s, this was mainstreamed by BrotherHood 2.0, where two brothers shared a channel for a year and communicated almost exclusively on a public stage. Then along came FiveAwesomeGirls, in which each vlogger takes a day of the week (they rest and shop on the weekend). Not to be outdone, the second-most intelligent gender came out with FiveAwesomeGuys.

We started 7AwesomeKids, and now there’s 5AwesomeDogs (here’s their canine debut).

What’s next?