This year, Heather Hund and her family will gather in West Texas on December 25 and solidify a new Christmas tradition, in which each relative is randomly assigned to give a gift to another family member and to a house pet. “The rules are basically a regift for the human and then $10 for the pet,” Hund told me. “And my 18-month-old son got put in [the latter] category too, so it’s small humans and small animals.”
The online-video unit posted revenue of about $4 billion in 2014, up from $3 billion a year earlier, according to two people familiar with its financials, as advertiser-friendly moves enticed some big brands to spend more. But while YouTube accounted for about 6% of Google’s overall sales last year, it didn’t contribute to earnings. After paying for content, and the equipment to deliver speedy videos, YouTube’s bottom line is “roughly break-even,” according to a person with knowledge of the figure.
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 Legion of Extraordinary Dancers and the YouTube Symphony Orchestra selected their membership based on individual video performances. Further, the cybercollaboration charity video "We Are the World 25 for Haiti (YouTube edition)" was formed by mixing performances of 57 globally distributed singers into a single musical work, with The Tokyo Times noting the "We Pray for You" YouTube cyber-collaboration video as an example of a trend to use crowdsourcing for charitable purposes. The anti-bullying It Gets Better Project expanded from a single YouTube video directed to discouraged or suicidal LGBT teens, that within two months drew video responses from hundreds including U.S. President Barack Obama, Vice President Biden, White House staff, and several cabinet secretaries. Similarly, in response to fifteen-year-old Amanda Todd's video "My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self-harm", legislative action was undertaken almost immediately after her suicide to study the prevalence of bullying and form a national anti-bullying strategy. In May 2018, London Metropolitan Police claimed that the drill videos that talk about violence give rise to the gang-related violence. YouTube deleted 30 music videos after the complaint.
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.
And though they don't appear to be huge revenue contributors at this point, the YouTube Red and YouTube TV subscription services can't be overlooked when trying to value the company. Particularly YouTube Red, which provides ad-free YouTube, some original shows and access to the Google Play Music service for $10 per month, and which led YouTube to become the top-grossing U.S. iPhone app in March. Later this year, Google plans to replace Google Play Music -- in many ways Red's weak link -- with YouTube Remix, a music service that's fully integrated with YouTube.
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.
Suraj Verma had been watching videos on how to get away with murder. Then he tried to delete his browsing history from YouTube. That’s when the police managed to see through the facade of lies that he set up to defend himself. Circumstantial evidence also undid Suraj’s lies. For instance, the bathroom had been wiped clean — something robbers don’t do.
Both In-Stream and Discovery are pay-per-view -- you pay YouTube a fixed rate for every view the ad receives -- and their return on investment (ROI) can be measured in Google AdWords. YouTube tallies one new "view" after 30 seconds of watching, or a click on the video as it's playing. If the video is less than 30 seconds, views are tallied from people who watch the entire ad.
But as the latest controversy around PewDiePie illustrates, his jokes have failed to land with many, many YouTube users, and there’s growing frustration with YouTube for not doing more to combat the growth of extremism in its midst. Though its most recent move of simply erasing PewDiePew from its rosily optimistic look back at 2018 might temporarily help to create a positive public image, when considering the evolution of PewDiePie’s influence alongside his steady drift toward the far right, it’s increasingly difficult to look back and laugh.
While not directly related to YouTube, you can use your YouTube platform to build up a following and reputation, and eventually direct your viewers to other paid platforms, like Yondo. This platform allows you to create your own kind of video store, where you can sell special videos (either on a subscription basis or pay-per-view). And, the best part? You can set your own price.
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.”)