But whereas Disney has long mined cultures around the world for legends and myths—dropping them into consumerist, family-friendly American formats—ChuChu’s videos are a different kind of hybrid: The company ingests Anglo-American nursery rhymes and holidays, and produces new versions with subcontinental flair. The characters’ most prominent animal friend is a unicorn-elephant. Nursery rhymes become music videos, complete with Indian dances and iconography. Kids of all skin tones and hair types speak with an Indian accent.
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.
Facebook and Twitter could pose new challenges to YouTube, because those social networks are creating their own video services. “If YouTube wants to move towards strong profitability, or to be profitable, they are gong to have to take that advertising and make it part of any actual programming,” Bajarin said. “And one way to have control over all that is to create their own content.”
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.
Of course, influencers have their own interests to look out for, too. “The process of creating a brand campaign is holistic, and the cost is not standard,” says Natalie Alzate, the woman behind NataliesOutlet, a YouTube channel with almost 6 million followers. “My manager, agent, and attorney work hard to ensure that each campaign is a success, which is measured by whether the fans respond to it as well they do to non-sponsored content.”
It's the perfect option for videos managed by charities and nonprofits, but even for-profit businesses and independent creatives can publish videos and YouTube Live streams that encourage contributions from their audience. Streaming platforms such as Twitch.tv, which webcasts video games and general interest content, sees accounts that are two years or older make $80 in "tips" per year on average.
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.
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.”)
Fifty years ago, the most influential children’s-television studio of the 20th century, Children’s Television Workshop, came into being, thanks to funding from the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the United States government. It created an unprecedented thing—Sesame Street—with help from a bevy of education experts and Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets. The cast was integrated. The setting was urban. The show was ultimately broadcast on public television across America, defining a multicultural ideal at a time of racial strife. It was the preschool-media embodiment of the War on Poverty, a national government solution to the problems of America’s cities.
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.