Soon after the snows of 1977 began to thaw, the residents of Greenfield, Massachusetts, received a strange questionnaire in the mail. “Try to recall the number of times you became annoyed and/or angry during the past week,” the survey instructed. “Describe the most angry of these experiences.” One woman knew her answer: Recently, her husband had bought a new car. Then he had driven it to his mistress’s house so she could admire the purchase. When the wife found out, she was livid. Furious. Her rage felt like an eruption she couldn’t control.
In early May, Amazon announced a new service initially designed for "professional video producers." Launch partners include media firm Conde Nast, the "How Stuff Works" website and Samuel Goldwyn Films. Amazon Video Direct could compete for the young creative talent attracted to YouTube. As does YouTube, Amazon offers revenue-sharing and royalties for content that attracts a certain level of traffic.
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.
Like any good mogul, Fischbach is diversifying: In October, he cofounded an athleisure line, Cloak, with fellow list member Seán McLoughlin, better known as “Jacksepticeye” (No. 8, $16 million). The workout line includes $85 sweaters and $35 T-shirts. Even if they intend to exercise nothing more than their thumbs, fans have snapped the gear up: The presale items sold out in 48 hours.
With two small kids in my own house, I haven’t been navigating this new world as a theoretical challenge. My youngest, who is 2, can rarely sustain her attention to watch the Netflix shows we put on for my 5-year-old son. But when I showed her a ChuChu video, just to see how she’d react, I practically had to wrestle my phone away from her. What was this stuff? Why did it have the effect it did?
According to ChuChu, its two largest markets are the United States and India, which together generate about one-third of its views. But each month, tens of millions of views also pour in from the U.K., Canada, Mexico, Australia, and all over Asia and Africa. Roughly 20 million times a day, a caretaker somewhere on Earth fires up YouTube and plays a ChuChu video. What began as a lark has grown into something very, very big, inflating the company’s ambitions. “We want to be the next Disney,” Chandar told me.
And throughout many videos focused on Steven Universe, E;R presents the show’s characters as analogues for Jewish people, coding them with anti-Semitic stereotypes. In one such video, he portrays one character as a deceptive tool for a global Jewish conspiracy, as indicated by a montage of public figures and businessmen, and then ends the video with an altered version of a white supremacist slogan known as the “14 words.”
In January 2018, the 23-year-old elder Paul brother was kicked off YouTube’s Google Preferred program, which gives favorable ad rates to popular channels, after he filmed a video in Japan that showed an apparent suicide hanging from a tree. He apologized. His income from videos (pratfalls, pranks) and brand deals took a hit, but loyal fans kept his hefty merchandise business afloat.
These two ends of a vast YouTube spectrum have clashed recently over two interesting and arguably related phenomena — both of which directly involve PewDiePie. The first is an ongoing battle that PewDiePie’s supporters have been waging in order to prevent his channel from being surpassed as the most popular one on YouTube. To keep this from happening, they’ve done everything from take out a Times Square billboard to reportedly hacking into 50,000 printers around the world in order to promote their “subscribe to PewDiePie” meme.
In June 2014, YouTube introduced videos playing at 60 frames per second, in order to reproduce video games with a frame rate comparable to high-end graphics cards. The videos play back at a resolution of 720p or higher. YouTube videos are available in a range of quality levels. The former names of standard quality (SQ), high quality (HQ), and high definition (HD) have been replaced by numerical values representing the vertical resolution of the video. The default video stream is encoded in the VP9 format with stereo Opus audio; if VP9/WebM is not supported in the browser/device or the browser's user agent reports Windows XP, then H.264/MPEG-4 AVC video with stereo AAC audio is used instead.
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.
“The largest fucking YouTuber on the planet made a video that got 7 million views in 7 hours,” Hasan Piker, a commentator for the left-wing web series The Young Turks, said on his own YouTube channel. “That seems like a fucking big problem, especially if the majority of his viewers are 14-year-old kids who are going to go over to this fucking channel and start watching this guy’s cartoon videos. ... [E;R] has an interest in red-pilling people and turning them over to Naziism or to Fascist ideology. How do you think this will play out when PewDiePie hypes this guy’s fucking channel?”
If hookups are your thing, Grindr and Tinder offer the prospect of casual sex within the hour. The phrase If something exists, there is porn of it used to be a clever internet meme; now it’s a truism. BDSM plays at the local multiplex—but why bother going? Sex is portrayed, often graphically and sometimes gorgeously, on prime-time cable. Sexting is, statistically speaking, normal.
YouTube also has a more democratic appeal. Unlike Instagram, where the biggest influencers are mainstream megastars in their own right (Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Beyoncé), YouTube is dominated by homegrown celebrities, such as Jenna Mourey (a.k.a. Jenna Marbles), Mariand Castrejón Castañeda (a.k.a. Yuya, a Mexican beauty vlogger), and a bunch of gamers that I’ve never heard of but have millions of fans. The world’s highest-paid YouTube star is Daniel Middleton, a British 26-year-old who goes by “DanTDM” and gained his fortune (an estimated annual income of $16.5 million, per Forbes) by posting videos of himself playing Minecraft. Last year, he did an international tour that included four sold-out nights at the Sydney Opera House.
7. Turn to crowdfunding: There are two primary types of crowdfunding: recurring and project-based. Recurring crowdfunding lets contributors pay an amount they specify on a regular schedule. You’d want to maximize this type of funding in order to turn a channel into a substantial income stream. Incentives such as one-on-one video chats, private classes or merchandise can entice viewers to sign up.
Controversial content has included material relating to Holocaust denial and the Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 football fans from Liverpool were crushed to death in 1989. In July 2008, the Culture and Media Committee of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom stated that it was "unimpressed" with YouTube's system for policing its videos, and argued that "proactive review of content should be standard practice for sites hosting user-generated content". YouTube responded by stating:
Watching my daughter play with my phone is a horrifying experience, precisely because her mimicry of adult behaviors is already so accurate. Her tiny fingers poke at buttons, pinch to zoom, endlessly scroll. It’s as though she’s grown a new brain from her fingertips. Most parents feel some version of this horror. Watching them poke and pinch at our devices, we realize that these rectangles of light and compulsion are not going away, and we are all dosing ourselves with their pleasures and conveniences without knowing the consequences.
On September 13, 2016, YouTube launched a public beta of Community, a social media-based feature that allows users to post text, images (including GIFs), live videos and others in a separate "Community" tab on their channel. Prior to the release, several creators had been consulted to suggest tools Community could incorporate that they would find useful; these YouTubers included Vlogbrothers, AsapScience, Lilly Singh, The Game Theorists, Karmin, The Key of Awesome, The Kloons, Peter Hollens, Rosianna Halse Rojas, Sam Tsui, Threadbanger and Vsauce3.
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.
YouTube Play Buttons, a part of the YouTube Creator Rewards, are a recognition by YouTube of its most popular channels. The trophies made of nickel plated copper-nickel alloy, golden plated brass, silver plated metal and ruby are given to channels with at least one hundred thousand, a million, ten million and fifty million subscribers, respectively.
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.