Congress held hearings on television’s possible deleterious effects on children (and adults) in 1952, 1954, and 1955. But not much happened, and the government and TV networks generally settled into a cycle that has been described by the media scholar Keisha Hoerrner. “First,” she has written, “the government castigated the industry for its deplorable programming, then the industry took its verbal punishment and promised to do better, followed by the government staying out of the industry’s business.”
ChuChu TV, the company responsible for some of the most widely viewed toddler content on YouTube, has a suitably cute origin story. Vinoth Chandar, the CEO, had always played around on YouTube, making Hindu devotionals and little videos of his father, a well-known Indian music producer. But after he and his wife had a baby daughter, whom they nicknamed “Chu Chu,” he realized he had a new audience—of one. He drew a Chu Chu–like character in Flash, the animation program, and then created a short video of the girl dancing to the popular and decidedly unwoke Indian nursery rhyme “Chubby Cheeks.” (“Curly hair, very fair / Eyes are blue, lovely too / Teacher’s pet, is that you?”)
As an advertiser on YouTube, you're populating your YouTube channel with video advertisements made by you. The difference between YouTube ads and, say, TV commercials, is that you get to show YouTube ads to more specific and often more engaged audience segments. You'll pay YouTube to host your ads on other, highly watched YouTube channels that appeal to the same viewership you're targeting.
From the looks of things, YouTube's top-line growth hasn't been hurt much by worries among some companies -- for example, Cisco Systems (CSCO) , which just announced it's halting its YouTube ad spend -- about the running of their ads against content they find to be inappropriate. It also doesn't appear to have been hurt badly by YouTube's attempts to appease such advertisers by "demonetizing" videos that its algorithms deem unsuitable for running ads against, or the backlash such actions have sparked among affected content creators.
In May 2011, 48 hours of new videos were uploaded to the site every minute, which increased to 60 hours every minute in January 2012, 100 hours every minute in May 2013, 300 hours every minute in November 2014, and 400 hours every minute in February 2017. As of January 2012, the site had 800 million unique users a month. It is estimated that in 2007 YouTube consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet in 2000. According to third-party web analytics providers, Alexa and SimilarWeb, YouTube is the second-most visited website in the world, as of December 2016; SimilarWeb also lists YouTube as the top TV and video website globally, attracting more than 15 billion visitors per month. In October 2006, YouTube moved to a new office in San Bruno, California.
ChuChu’s founders aren’t blind to the power of new-media platforms, or the undertow of crappy YouTube producers, or the addictive power of devices, but the magnitude and improbability of their success more than balance the scales. They don’t quite seem to know why (or how, exactly) they’ve been given this opportunity to speak to millions from an office in South India, but they’re not going to throw away the chance. After all, there are so many stories to tell.
Since PewDiePie’s December 9 video drew greater attention to the E;R channel, YouTube has reportedly suspended one of the creator’s videos and issued a strike against the account for violating the site’s community guidelines. The suspended video, which according to E;R had 2 million views at the time of its removal from YouTube, was ostensibly about Steven Universe — but it also contained four minutes of unedited footage of Hitler delivering a speech. YouTube has not yet responded to Vox’s request for comment.
But even if you discount YouTube's multiples a bit to account for its profit uncertainty, you're still left with a very valuable business. At six times Mizuho's revenue estimate, YouTube would be worth $90 billion. At seven times, it would be worth $105 billion. And those valuation figures would rise a little more if one tacked on a slight premium (say, $5 billion or $10 billion) for the potential of YouTube's subscription businesses.
The good news is that income is rising, but efforts to generate a broad and loyal audience that turn to the service on a regular basis for original content appear to have hit a wall. The Journal points out how three years ago YouTube spent hundreds of millions of dollars on original content to build new channels, only to see many of them fail. Getting people to visit the site directly and regularly because there’s something specific they want to see, rather than dropping by occasionally via a link on another site or online service, appears to be a big challenge for the company.
For example if your YouTube Channel happens to provide valuable video content for a very specific audience. Say the channel teaches business owner how to organize their finances, track their expenses and save money on taxes. Any company who is trying to reach business owners would love to place their ads on that channel because you would both share the same demographic. The people who view that channel are their potential customers.
If your end goal is to actually make money from videos, there’s a far better option than simply relying on your measly allocation of ad revenue. Instead, create a YouTube channel and build an audience. The primary goal is to engage this audience and build a brand name. Then, once you've established a reputation, begin driving traffic to your own landing pages where you can up-sell viewers with premium video content.
YouTube already offers advertisers the opportunity to withdraw from advertising on some videos – such as LGBTQ content or discussions of mental health – if it doesn’t sit well alongside a brand’s message. It was revealed last year that this can sometimes then lead to content being demonetised. In other words, the creator does not receive a share of ad revenue for that video.
At first, pretty much everybody agrees, television for kids was bad—dumb cartoons, cowboy shows, locally produced slop. There also wasn’t much of it, so kids often watched whatever adult programming was on TV. In the early 1950s, one teacher enumerated the changes she’d seen in her pupils since they had “got television”: “They have no sense of values, no feeling of wonder, no sustained interest. Their shallowness of thought and feeling is markedly apparent, and they display a lack of cooperation and inability to finish a task.” There were calls for action.
YouTube is pulling in plenty of dollars – 4 billion of them in 2014, up by a billion on 2013 – but it’s also spending it like there’s no tomorrow. People “familiar with its financials” told the Wall Street Journal this week that after forking out for original content and also the infrastructure to keep the whole shebang going, the company is just about breaking even.
I don’t mean the kind of corruption that regularly sends lowlifes like Rod Blagojevich, the Democratic former governor of Illinois, to prison. Those abuses are nonpartisan and always with us. So is vote theft of the kind we’ve just seen in North Carolina—after all, the alleged fraudster employed by the Republican candidate for Congress hired himself out to Democrats in 2010.
Previously, viewing YouTube videos on a personal computer required the Adobe Flash Player plug-in to be installed in the browser. In January 2010, YouTube launched an experimental version of the site that used the built-in multimedia capabilities of web browsers supporting the HTML5 standard. This allowed videos to be viewed without requiring Adobe Flash Player or any other plug-in to be installed. The YouTube site had a page that allowed supported browsers to opt into the HTML5 trial. Only browsers that supported HTML5 Video using the MP4 (with H.264 video) or WebM (with VP8 video) formats could play the videos, and not all videos on the site were available.