YouTube featured an April Fools prank on the site on April 1 of every year from 2008 to 2016. In 2008, all links to videos on the main page were redirected to Rick Astley's music video "Never Gonna Give You Up", a prank known as "rickrolling". The next year, when clicking on a video on the main page, the whole page turned upside down, which YouTube claimed was a "new layout". In 2010, YouTube temporarily released a "TEXTp" mode which transformed colors in videos to random uppercase letters "in order to reduce bandwidth costs by $1 per second." The next year, the site celebrated its "100th anniversary" with a range of sepia-toned silent, early 1900s-style films, including a parody of Keyboard Cat. In 2012, clicking on the image of a DVD next to the site logo led to a video about a purported option to order every YouTube video for home delivery on DVD. In 2013, YouTube teamed up with satirical newspaper company The Onion to claim that the video sharing website was launched as a contest which had finally come to an end, and would announce a winner of the contest when the site went back up in 2023. In 2014, YouTube announced that it was responsible for the creation of all viral video trends, and revealed previews of upcoming internet memes, such as "Clocking", "Kissing Dad", and "Glub Glub Water Dance". The next year, YouTube added a music button to the video bar that played samples from "Sandstorm" by Darude. In 2016, YouTube introduced an option to watch every video on the platform in 360-degree mode with Snoop Dogg.
Frank Kameny, the last century’s greatest gay-rights activist, filed the first-ever Supreme Court petition challenging discrimination against homosexuals. He led some of the first gay-rights demonstrations. He was the first openly gay congressional candidate. He spearheaded the challenge to the psychiatric establishment’s categorization of homosexuality as a mental illness. He fought tirelessly against sodomy laws. He did a lot more than that. But there is one thing he never did—at least to my own recollection and that of associates of his whom I consulted. He did not use the term LGBTQ, or any of its variations.
In October 2010, Hurley announced that he would be stepping down as chief executive officer of YouTube to take an advisory role, and that Salar Kamangar would take over as head of the company. In April 2011, James Zern, a YouTube software engineer, revealed that 30% of videos accounted for 99% of views on the site. In November 2011, the Google+ social networking site was integrated directly with YouTube and the Chrome web browser, allowing YouTube videos to be viewed from within the Google+ interface.
But there is something the company could do immediately to improve the situation. YouTube knows that I—and tens of millions of other people—have watched lots of videos made for toddlers, but it has never once recommended that I switch to YouTube Kids. Think of how hard Facebook works to push users from Instagram onto Facebook and vice versa. Why not try to get more families onto the YouTube Kids app? (Malik Ducard, YouTube’s global head of family and learning, said in a statement that YouTube has “worked hard to raise awareness of the YouTube Kids app through heavy promotion. These promos have helped drive our growth. Today, YouTube Kids has over 14 million weekly viewers and over 70 billion views.”)
Estimates for YouTube's annual revenue, nearly all of which still comes from ads, vary a fair amount. But many of the estimates are now above $10 billion. At different points, Bank of America and Mizuho forecast that YouTube would post 2017 revenue of $13 billion and $12 billion, respectively. And in February, Baird's Colin Sebastian estimated YouTube is doing around $15 billion in annual sales.
The money you earn on YouTube is entirely dependant upon how many views your videos receive. If you have a large number of subscribers and all of your videos receive thousands of views, the ad revenue will be high. If your videos have a low number of views, those videos will not generate much in terms of revenue. “Gangnam Style,” for example, was a viral hit that received over two billion views and generated as much as $5.9 million in revenue. However, even popular users generally see views in the thousands rather than the billions, so earnings are considerably lower on average. As of 2013, it is estimated that one video with a million views can earn the creator between $800 and $8,000.
As Grayson notes, PewDiePie’s endorsement of the E;R channel continues a long trend of the vlogger using his influence to normalize white supremacist alt-right rhetoric to an alarming — and, on YouTube, increasingly widespread — degree. In 2016 and 2017, PewDiePie faced intense backlash for multiple instances in which he promoted Nazi symbolism and anti-Semitism, including a video in which he threw a Nazi “heil” salute, and one in which he hired a pair of performers from a freelancer website to hold up a sign reading “Death to all Jews,” ostensibly as a satirical exercise. He followed that so-called stunt with a video where he used a racist slur during a gaming live stream.
Little kids are responsible for billions of views on YouTube—pretending otherwise is irresponsible. In a small study, a team of pediatricians at Einstein Medical Center, in Philadelphia, found that YouTube was popular among device-using children under the age of 2. Oh, and 97 percent of the kids in the study had used a mobile device. By age 4, 75 percent of the children in the study had their own tablet, smartphone, or iPod. And that was in 2015. The sea change in children’s content that ChuChu and other new video makers have effected is, above all, profitable.
One reason is that it caters to a narrow audience of young viewers. Music videos are its most popular content. YouTube’s stars remain relatively unknown. Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg is the biggest star, with 35 million subscribers to his wacky videogame montages. Even Ms. Wojcicki hadn’t heard of him before joining YouTube, she told a conference last fall.
All YouTube users can upload videos up to 15 minutes each in duration. Users who have a good track record of complying with the site's Community Guidelines may be offered the ability to upload videos up to 12 hours in length, as well as live streams, which requires verifying the account, normally through a mobile phone. When YouTube was launched in 2005, it was possible to upload longer videos, but a ten-minute limit was introduced in March 2006 after YouTube found that the majority of videos exceeding this length were unauthorized uploads of television shows and films. The 10-minute limit was increased to 15 minutes in July 2010. In the past, it was possible to upload videos longer than 12 hours. Videos can be at most 128 GB in size. Video captions are made using speech recognition technology when uploaded. Such captioning is usually not perfectly accurate, so YouTube provides several options for manually entering the captions for greater accuracy.
The outcry against PewDiePie’s recommendation of the channel was immediate, with media outlets and other YouTuber users citing it as an example of PewDiePie’s ongoing dalliance in alt-right culture. In response, PewDiePie released a follow-up video on December 11 in which he sarcastically described the incident as an “oopsie” and scoffed at the idea that he was promoting neo-Nazism by merely “recommending someone for their anime review.”
YouTube has also faced criticism over the handling of offensive content in some of its videos. The uploading of videos containing defamation, pornography, and material encouraging criminal conduct is forbidden by YouTube's "Community Guidelines". YouTube relies on its users to flag the content of videos as inappropriate, and a YouTube employee will view a flagged video to determine whether it violates the site's guidelines.
All the estimates by research firms and analysts, says Kirjner, are "based more on belief and anecdotes than on truly representative data. What's more -- beyond anecdotes either shared by Google or collected through discussions with ad buyers, creators and multichannel network operators -- we know very little about what is available on YouTube, what people watch and how much it gets watched."
After all, relatability is a YouTuber’s greatest asset — along with a willingness to keep plugging away. “If you’re passionate about it, you really increase your chances of success,” says Asano. “It’s a lot of work. To produce just one video, you need camera equipment, a computer to edit it on, and time. And if you’re just starting out, you’re not going to get paid for a while because you need to build your subscribers. Don’t do it because you think you’re going to make an easy buck, because it’s not.”
Until last month, pretty much any random person could enable the “monetization” setting on their YouTube account and get ads on their videos, allowing them to earn a fraction of a cent for every time a person viewed or clicked on their content. That all changed in January, however, when Google (YouTube’s owner) announced new standards to merit those ads. Now, to be accepted into the “YouTube Partner Program” and monetize your channel, you need a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch-time over the past 12 months; your videos will also be more closely monitored for inappropriate content. Meanwhile, YouTube also promised that members of “Google Preferred” — a vaunted group of popular channels that make up YouTube’s top 5 percent, and command higher ad dollars because of it — will be more carefully vetted. (These shifts followed the Logan Paul controversy, as well as a brouhaha about ads running on unsavory content, such as sexually explicit or extremist videos.)
Enabling monetization means that you agree you will only upload video content that you have the rights for and that you will play by the rules (such as not watching your own video over and over to boost ads). Google AdSense is the way you set up your payment information for when you actually start making money. I’ve posted links in the show notes of today’s episode so that you don’t have to hunt around for these links.
ChuChu does not employ the weird keyword-stuffed titles used by lower-rent YouTube channels. The company’s titles are simple, sunny, consistent. Its theory of media is that good stuff wins, which is why its videos have won. “We know what our subscribers want, and we give it to them,” Chandar says. ChuChu says it adds roughly 40,000 subscribers a day.
Libya blocked access on January 24, 2010, because of videos that featured demonstrations in the city of Benghazi by families of detainees who were killed in Abu Salim prison in 1996, and videos of family members of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi at parties. The blocking was criticized by Human Rights Watch. In November 2011, after the Libyan Civil War, YouTube was once again allowed in Libya.
YouTube originally offered videos at only one quality level, displayed at a resolution of 320×240 pixels using the Sorenson Spark codec (a variant of H.263), with mono MP3 audio. In June 2007, YouTube added an option to watch videos in 3GP format on mobile phones. In March 2008, a high-quality mode was added, which increased the resolution to 480×360 pixels. In November 2008, 720p HD support was added. At the time of the 720p launch, the YouTube player was changed from a 4:3 aspect ratio to a widescreen 16:9. With this new feature, YouTube began a switchover to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC as its default video compression format. In November 2009, 1080p HD support was added. In July 2010, YouTube announced that it had launched a range of videos in 4K format, which allows a resolution of up to 4096×3072 pixels. In June 2015, support for 8K resolution was added, with the videos playing at 7680×4320 pixels. In November 2016, support for HDR video was added which can be encoded with Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) or Perceptual Quantizer (PQ). HDR video can be encoded with the Rec. 2020 color space.