This might not exactly seem like a tragedy. After all, Americans watch a lot of TV. By the time Nielsen began recording how much time Americans spent in front of TV screens in 1949–50, each household was already averaging four hours and 35 minutes a day. That number kept going up, passing six hours in 1970–71, seven hours in 1983–84, all the way up to eight hours in 2003–04. Viewing finally peaked at eight hours and 55 minutes in 2009–10. Since then, the numbers have been gliding downward, with the most recent data showing Americans’ viewing habits edging under eight hours a day for the first time since George W. Bush’s presidency.
For any well-meaning kids’ producer, one model to look to for inspiration is Fred Rogers—PBS’s Mister Rogers. Rogers didn’t have any deep academic background in children’s development, but early on, he grasped the educational possibilities of the new medium, and in the 15 years between the first children’s show he produced and the national premiere of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he worked constantly to make it better for kids. ChuChu could well be going through a similar stage now. Founded just five years ago, it’s encountering a different, and tougher, media landscape than Rogers did—but his path is still worth following.
Regardless of the exact number, it's safe to assume that YouTube's ad sales are growing at a rapid clip. On its earnings calls, Google has signaled that outside of mobile search, YouTube has been the biggest driver behind its rapid ad sales growth. Last quarter, "paid clicks" on Google's own sites and apps rose 59% annually -- this figure covers not only actual ad clicks, but (among other things) the showing of YouTube video ads that were watched long enough for Google to get paid.
Nobody likes content interrupted, commercials are at least half of why I stopped watching TV shows on TV. Besides a majority of youtube videos are ~2-5 minutes long, a 30 second ad is too long as a % of total time. Internet ads for video tend to serve the same ad repeatedly which is a big mistake. Our privacy will be sacrificed for targeted ads here too I’m sure.
But sponsorships are where the big bucks are made, and where intermediaries like MediaKix and other agencies come in. This is the major leagues: Most brands aren’t interested in YouTube channels with fewer than 200,000 to 300,000 subscribers or average views of less than 10,000 to 20,000 per video, says Asano. The bar is also high because videos cost more to make, and require tricky negotiations —the sponsor will want to know where their product will be featured, for how long, and so forth. “When we’re connecting top brands with top influencers on YouTube, you’re talking a minimum budget of $50,000 to $100,000, and it just goes up from there,” Asano explains. “Some of the biggest YouTube influencers get paid $100,000 to 200,000 for a single video. And then those videos get millions of views. That’s why there’s a lot of money in the space.”
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.
New challengers also add urgency to her task. Facebook and Twitter Inc., which routinely send traffic to YouTube, are building their own video offerings. Facebook, and startups such as Vessel, are trying to poach YouTube stars. Meanwhile, Amazon.com Inc. and Netflix Inc. are changing the image of “online video” by licensing Hollywood-produced content and creating original programming.
YouTube has taken steps in recent years to entice more direct users, like creating exclusive deals with popular content creators, including Michelle Phan and Epic Rap Battles, and redesigning its home page to make it more of a destination rather than a repository. It has also addressed the issue that YouTube's core audience is too narrowly dominated by young viewers and this year signed a content deal with the NFL to host game clips and interviews.
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".
On one side lies many overlapping subcultures that make up huge swaths of the YouTube populations: its tremendous gaming communities, including Let’s Play-ers, live streamers, machinima-style editors, and vloggers; its prank cultures and their overlap with stunt personalities like Jake and Logan Paul; and its increasingly insidious alt-right presence.
The men know this with quantitative precision. YouTube analytics show exactly when a video’s audience falls off. ChuChu and other companies like it—whatever their larger philosophy—can see exactly what holds a toddler’s attention, moment by moment, and what causes it to drift. If a video achieves a 60 percent average completion rate, ChuChu knows it has a hit. Using these data doesn’t let it “crack the algorithm”; everyone has access to a version of these numbers. Instead, Chandar uses the analytics to tune his and other creators’ intuition about what 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.