Among the specific findings, researchers demonstrated that Sesame Street improved children’s vocabulary, regardless of their parents’ education or attitudes. Another study found that regular adult TV stunted vocabulary development, while high-quality educational programs accelerated language acquisition. The most fascinating study began in the 1980s, when a University of Massachusetts at Amherst team installed video cameras in more than 100 homes, and had those families and hundreds of others keep a written log of their media diet. Following up more than a decade later, researchers found that “viewing educational programs as preschoolers was associated with higher grades, reading more books, placing more value on achievement, greater creativity, and less aggression.” On the flip side, violent programming led to lower grades among girls, in particular. The team was unequivocal about the meaning of these results: What kids watched was much more important than how much of it they watched. Or, as the researchers’ refutation of Marshall McLuhan’s famous aphorism went, “The medium is not the message: The message is.”
The driver dropped me off just south of the center of the city, in an area of new high-rises that overlook Srinivasapuram, a fishing village on the Bay of Bengal. The village hangs on to the edge of the city, which has been modernizing fast; the government has been trying to relocate the village for years. From my hotel, I watched tiny figures wander over to the Adyar River estuary and squat, staring up at the opulence of the new Chennai.
“Even if advertisers are paying a decent amount to promote their products through video ads, only a portion of their expenditures ever make it into content creators’ pockets,” says entrepreneur Michael Johnston. “For example, if advertisers are paying an average of $20 per 1,000 ad impressions, the videos where those ads are being shown may only generate $2 or $3 per 1,000 views.”
At the time of uploading a video, YouTube users are shown a message asking them not to violate copyright laws. Despite this advice, there are still many unauthorized clips of copyrighted material on YouTube. YouTube does not view videos before they are posted online, and it is left to copyright holders to issue a DMCA takedown notice pursuant to the terms of the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act. Any successful complaint about copyright infringement results in a YouTube copyright strike. Three successful complaints for copyright infringement against a user account will result in the account and all of its uploaded videos being deleted. Organizations including Viacom, Mediaset, and the English Premier League have filed lawsuits against YouTube, claiming that it has done too little to prevent the uploading of copyrighted material. Viacom, demanding $1 billion in damages, said that it had found more than 150,000 unauthorized clips of its material on YouTube that had been viewed "an astounding 1.5 billion times". YouTube responded by stating that it "goes far beyond its legal obligations in assisting content owners to protect their works".
YouTube celebrated its tenth birthday the other day, almost nine of those years being as a property of Google (GOOG). It would seem like a raging success: Some stars of the medium make significant amounts of money, companies use it as a powerful marketing tool, and Google harvests enormous amounts of user data that become marketing gold. YouTube is the top video site in the world, with more than a billion users and $4 billion in annual revenue.
ChuChu learns many lessons from parents, who provide the company with constant feedback. It heard from parents who questioned the diversity of its characters, who were all light-skinned; it now has two light-skinned and two dark-skinned main characters. It heard from parents who wondered about the toy guns in one video; it removed them. It heard from parents about an earlier version of the “Johny Johny” video, in which the little boy sleeps in a communal bed with his family, as is common in India; in a new version, he has his own room.
It helps, too, that the same young viewers who eschew television in favor of YouTube are bonkers for video games. “Ten to 15 years ago, gaming wasn’t cool. You didn’t game because it was cool, you gamed because you loved it,” says David Huntzinger, a digital-talent agent at WME. “Now you have Drake going on Twitch and playing Fortnite, and [professional] athletes in the locker room saying they can’t stop playing Xbox—it’s what these kids are living and breathing.”
However, YouTube channels on the smaller side can still be monetized. Your earning potential isn't determined solely by the number of subscribers and views you have, but also by the level of engagement you generate, the niche you cater to, and the revenue channels you explore. That's not to say subscriber count doesn't matter—check out our tips to get more subscribers on YouTube.
The first two steps in earning online revenue with YouTube is to open an account and turn on account monetization. Enabling monetization requires accepting YouTube’s advertising guidelines and connecting to an AdSense account for payment. Enabling ads on your YouTube videos requires agreeing to Google’s ad revenue share for YouTube. There is a 45/55 split for all content creators, so Google keeps 45 percent of all YouTube advertising on your videos, and you get the remaining 55 percent.
I’m sure you have seen a viral YouTube video. They come in all shapes and sizes—from super popular songs like “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” to a funny grumpy cat, someone falling down, or even something completely off the wall like Ylvis' “What Does the Fox Say?" video. What do they all have in common? Well, these posters all made a ton of money on YouTube when their videos went viral.
ChuChu is largely making things up as it goes, responding—as any young company would—to what its consumers want. Despite the company’s earnest desire to educate the kids who watch its videos, it has not tried to use the lessons generated by previous generations of educational-TV makers. Its executives and developers don’t regularly work with academics who could help them shape their content to promote healthy development of young brains. So what effects are ChuChu’s shows having on kids? How does what it’s producing compare with whatever kids were watching before?
That kind of growth suggests that something unpredictable and wild is happening: America’s grip on children’s entertainment is coming to an end. ChuChu is but the largest of a new constellation of children’s-media brands on YouTube that is spread out across the world: Little Baby Bum in London, Animaccord Studios in Moscow, Videogyan in Bangalore, Billion Surprise Toys in Dubai, TuTiTu TV in Tel Aviv, and LooLoo Kids in Iași, a Romanian town near the country’s border with Moldova. The new children’s media look nothing like what we adults would have expected. They are exuberant, cheap, weird, and multicultural. YouTube’s content for young kids—what I think of as Toddler YouTube—is a mishmash, a bricolage, a trash fire, an explosion of creativity. It’s a largely unregulated, data-driven grab for toddlers’ attention, and, as we’ve seen with the rest of social media, its ramifications may be deeper and wider than you’d initially think.
I worry about these questions a lot, and I wonder if our 21st-century American institutions are up to the challenges they’ve created with their market successes and ethical abdications. Even so, when I visited Chennai, I felt okay about the media future we’re heading into. The toddler videos that ChuChu is posting on YouTube are cultural hybrids, exuberant and cosmopolitan, and in a philosophical sense they presuppose a world in which all children are part of one vast community, drawing on the world’s collective heritage of storytelling. That’s a rich narrative rootstock, with lots of lessons to teach—and right now who’s better poised to make the most of it than ChuChu and companies like it, especially if they can learn from the legacy of American educational TV?