And I don’t just mean that the Republican Party is led by the boss of a kleptocratic family business who presides over a scandal-ridden administration, that many of his closest advisers are facing prison time, that Donald Trump himself might have to stay in office just to avoid prosecution, that he could be exposed by the special counsel and the incoming House majority as the most corrupt president in American history. Richard Nixon’s administration was also riddled with criminality—but in 1973, the Republican Party of Hugh Scott, the Senate minority leader, and John Rhodes, the House minority leader, was still a normal organization. It played by the rules.
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Absent substantive oversight by regulators, in the late 1960s the calls for change entered a new, more creative phase. A group calling itself Action for Children’s Television began advocating for specific changes to programming for young kids. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting was formed in 1968 with government dollars. At the same time, Children’s Television Workshop began producing Sesame Street, and the forerunner to PBS, National Educational Television, began distributing Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. These shows were tremendously successful in creating genuinely educational television. By the time children’s programming got swept up into the growing cable industry, the big channels had learned a lot from the public model, which they incorporated into shows such as Dora the Explorer and Blue’s Clues.
And while PewDiePie only follows a few hundred people on Twitter, many of them are alt-right-identified figures — including Peterson, the prominent Gamergate writer Ian Miles Cheong, Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson, the alt-right YouTube philosopher Stefan Molyneux, the alt-right Canadian blogger Lauren Southern, the recently “redpilled” YouTube personality Laci Green, and leading figures of YouTube’s reactionary right-wing community, like Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro. PewDiePie also followed notorious alt-right YouTuber Sargon of Akkad until the latter’s suspension from Twitter last year. (Kjellberg has not responded to a request from Vox for comment.)

But from where I’m sitting, these videos are a lot like the TV show Jackass – which was on MTV between 2000 and 2002. The show featured self-injuring stunts including inserting a toy car into one cast member’s anus, snorting wasabi, and tattooing in a moving off-road vehicle. The show was broadcast before 10pm, prior to a campaign led by US Senator Joe Lieberman to remove it.
“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?”
There was some backlash over these new benchmarks, but frankly, the vast majority of people who lost their monetization privileges weren’t earning much anyway. Most channels make somewhere between $1.50 and $3 per thousand views, depending on their content and audience, and Google won’t even cut a paycheck for under $100 (or roughly 50,000 views — a pretty tall order for the average 14-year-old posting eyeliner tutorials). In other words, if you were looking for an easy side gig, YouTube was never the efficient choice.

I’ve tolerated all kind of s***t from Youtube... Youtube Rewind, Buzzfeed, SNL, censorship, the endless annoying mainstream music, tons of politic propaganda... god even the idea that I must to watch ads every 2 minutes (at this point I prefer turn on the old TV) but ever since tik tok ads invaded I feel I want to drink acid, pull my eyes off, blow my ears with firecrackers and die slowly... it’s TOO MUCH... I’ve never experience this level of despair for society. But anyways maybe I’m too old and bitter... even though i’m freaking 27!!
The power of YouTube's ad-targeting abilities -- enabled by both its own user data and outside data it can get with Google's help -- have also helped its cause. So have its investments in building quality measurement tools that help companies gauge the impact of a video ad on things like awareness of a product and attitudes towards the brand that's selling it.
On my last day in the ChuChu offices, Krishnan related a parable to me from the Mahābhārata, a Sanskrit epic. A prince wants to be known as generous, so the god Krishna decides to put him to the test: He creates two mountains of gold and tells the prince to give it all away in 24 hours. The prince begins to do so, parceling it out to people he thinks need it. But as the day ends he’s hardly made a dent in the mountains. So Krishna calls another prince and tells him he has just five minutes to give away the gold. This prince sees two people walking along, goes right over to them, and gives each a mountain. Just like that, the job is done. The moral is unsettling, but simple: Don’t impose limits on your generosity.

ChuChu has changed over time—it has slowed the pacing of its videos, focused on the key elements of scenes, and made more explicitly educational videos. But in the wilds of YouTube, the videos with the most views, not the most educational value, are the ones that rise to the top. ChuChu’s newer videos, which have more of the features Johnson looks for, have not had the time to hoover up as much attention, so the old ones keep appearing in YouTube searches and suggestions.

Though the furor around PewDiePie’s repeated antics has subsided after each of these incidents, his courting of alt-right ideas has not. Though he has never openly identified himself as a member or supporter of the alt-right, he has continued to like and promote channels run by alt-right-affiliated users, and earlier this year, he made a video in which he reviewed the right-wing personality and alt-right hero Jordan Peterson’s controversial self-help book. In the review, PewDiePie endorsed the book, called it a “fun” read, and said he would take some of its advice.


For other YouTube creators, ad dollars only go so far, and a significant portion of revenue comes from sponsorships and “affiliate marketing” (when brands offer a commission on any sales or traffic that the creator’s content drives). Affiliates function pretty seamlessly through YouTube; anyone can include links to featured products in their video’s caption, and when audience members click through and buy them, that YouTube channel gets a small kickback. Many YouTubers prefer Amazon’s affiliate program, “Amazon associates,” although there are plenty more to choose from.
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.[97][98] The videos play back at a resolution of 720p or higher.[99] 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.[100]
YouTube entered into a marketing and advertising partnership with NBC in June 2006.[286] In March 2007, it struck a deal with BBC for three channels with BBC content, one for news and two for entertainment.[287] In November 2008, YouTube reached an agreement with MGM, Lions Gate Entertainment, and CBS, allowing the companies to post full-length films and television episodes on the site, accompanied by advertisements in a section for U.S. viewers called "Shows". The move was intended to create competition with websites such as Hulu, which features material from NBC, Fox, and Disney.[288][289] In November 2009, YouTube launched a version of "Shows" available to UK viewers, offering around 4,000 full-length shows from more than 60 partners.[290] In January 2010, YouTube introduced an online film rentals service,[291] which is only available to users in the United States, Canada, and the UK as of 2010.[292][293] The service offers over 6,000 films.[294]
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In August 2008, a US court ruled in Lenz v. Universal Music Corp. that copyright holders cannot order the removal of an online file without first determining whether the posting reflected fair use of the material. The case involved Stephanie Lenz from Gallitzin, Pennsylvania, who had made a home video of her 13-month-old son dancing to Prince's song "Let's Go Crazy", and posted the 29-second video on YouTube.[325] In the case of Smith v. Summit Entertainment LLC, professional singer Matt Smith sued Summit Entertainment for the wrongful use of copyright takedown notices on YouTube.[326] He asserted seven causes of action, and four were ruled in Smith's favor.[327]
For people who dream of making money on YouTube, there are lots of online celebrities and channels to aspire to imitate. There's makeup superstar James Charles, who became the first male CoverGirl model. Liza Koshy's fame on Vine and then YouTube has led to traditional film and TV gigs, including a role in a Tyler Perry film. Even pop star Justin Bieber got his start on YouTube. According to YouTube, the number of channels that earned five figures or more grew by more than 50 percent from July 2017 to July 2018. Channels earning six figures per year increased by 40 percent.
In order for a YouTuber to get paid for an ad, the viewer of their video must have Ad-Block turned off (meaning they will see all the ads on videos) and must watch at least 30 seconds of videos they could otherwise skip. Or, this will work if the viewer sees smaller ads like banner ads, according to YouTuber Mah-Dry-Bread. The money generated from the viewer watching these ads is split between YouTube and your channel.
Individuals and businesses make millions of dollars through YouTube advertising, but there are risks to using a platform controlled by another company. Not only is there a chance that a change in Google's search algorithms could make or break video traffic, but Google also takes a hefty 45 percent cut of revenue from video advertising. Nevertheless, YouTube is a massive platform and is the world's second largest search engine after Google, which includes YouTube videos in search results. If the benefits of reaching YouTube's large audience and having Google handle the most labor-intensive parts of building an advertising network outweigh the costs and risks, this platform is a great resource for turning videos into cash.
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.
To an adult, the appeal of ChuChu videos is not totally obvious. On the one hand, the songs are catchy, the colors are bright, and the characters are cute. On the other, the animation is two-dimensional and kind of choppy, a throwback to the era before Pixar. And there is a lot of movement; sometimes every pixel of the screen seems to be in motion. Krishnan and Chandar believe that any given shot needs to include many different things a child could notice: A bird flying in the background. Something wiggling. These things hold kids’ attention.
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.”
In March 2010, YouTube began free streaming of certain content, including 60 cricket matches of the Indian Premier League. According to YouTube, this was the first worldwide free online broadcast of a major sporting event.[39] On March 31, 2010, the YouTube website launched a new design, with the aim of simplifying the interface and increasing the time users spend on the site. Google product manager Shiva Rajaraman commented: "We really felt like we needed to step back and remove the clutter."[40] In May 2010, YouTube videos were watched more than two billion times per day.[41][42][43] This increased to three billion in May 2011,[44][45][46] and four billion in January 2012.[23][47] In February 2017, one billion hours of YouTube was watched every day.[48][49][50]
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