The ChuChu guys didn’t set out to make educational programming. They were just making videos for fun. How were they to know they’d become a global force in children’s entertainment? As time went on and the staff expanded, the company created a teaching series, called Learning English Is Fun, and worked with a preschool company to develop an app, ChuChu School, that has an explicitly didactic purpose. But generally speaking, Chandar and Krishnan just wanted their videos to be wholesome—to deliver entertainment that perhaps provided kids with a dose of moral instruction.
Congress held hearings on television’s possible deleterious effects on children (and adults) in 1952, 1954, and 1955. But not much happened, and the government and TV networks generally settled into a cycle that has been described by the media scholar Keisha Hoerrner. “First,” she has written, “the government castigated the industry for its deplorable programming, then the industry took its verbal punishment and promised to do better, followed by the government staying out of the industry’s business.”
In December 2011, YouTube launched a new version of the site interface, with the video channels displayed in a central column on the home page, similar to the news feeds of social networking sites. At the same time, a new version of the YouTube logo was introduced with a darker shade of red, the first change in design since October 2006. In May 2013, YouTube launched a pilot program for content providers to offer premium, subscription-based channels within the platform. In February 2014, Susan Wojcicki was appointed CEO of YouTube. In November 2014, YouTube announced a subscription service known as "Music Key", which bundled ad-free streaming of music content on YouTube with the existing Google Play Music service.
ChuChu’s headquarters take up the entire first floor of a blue-glass building with bright-yellow stripes. Rows of animators flank a center aisle that houses big, colorful flourishes—weird chairs, structural columns with graffiti on them—signifying “fun tech office!” The work floor is ringed by maybe 10 offices that house the higher-ups. ChuChu says it employs about 200 people.
YouTube has enabled people to more directly engage with government, such as in the CNN/YouTube presidential debates (2007) in which ordinary people submitted questions to U.S. presidential candidates via YouTube video, with a techPresident co-founder saying that Internet video was changing the political landscape. Describing the Arab Spring (2010– ), sociologist Philip N. Howard quoted an activist's succinct description that organizing the political unrest involved using "Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world." In 2012, more than a third of the U.S. Senate introduced a resolution condemning Joseph Kony 16 days after the "Kony 2012" video was posted to YouTube, with resolution co-sponsor Senator Lindsey Graham remarking that the video "will do more to lead to (Kony's) demise than all other action combined."
Krishnan had no experience other than his own parenting. But if whatever he did as a parent worked for his kids, he felt, why wouldn’t it work for everyone? For example, when he taught his kids left from right, he liked to do it in the car, when they were in the back seat. That way, if he pointed left, it was left for them, too. So when ChuChu made a video teaching the left-right concept, it made sure to always show the characters from behind, not mirrored, so that when a character pointed left, the kids watching would understand.
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.
Morgan Stanley told clients Feb. 5 that more disclosure about YouTube, as well as the smaller businesses lumped together on its balance sheet as “Other Bets,” could help investors see more value in the sum of these parts. Alphabet, which now has a market capitalization of roughly $708 billion could actually be a $1 trillion company, the bank’s analysts said.
Enabling monetization means that you agree you will only upload video content that you have the rights for and that you will play by the rules (such as not watching your own video over and over to boost ads). Google AdSense is the way you set up your payment information for when you actually start making money. I’ve posted links in the show notes of today’s episode so that you don’t have to hunt around for these links.
Conversely, YouTube has also allowed government to more easily engage with citizens, the White House's official YouTube channel being the seventh top news organization producer on YouTube in 2012 and in 2013 a healthcare exchange commissioned Obama impersonator Iman Crosson's YouTube music video spoof to encourage young Americans to enroll in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)-compliant health insurance. In February 2014, U.S. President Obama held a meeting at the White House with leading YouTube content creators to not only promote awareness of Obamacare but more generally to develop ways for government to better connect with the "YouTube Generation". Whereas YouTube's inherent ability to allow presidents to directly connect with average citizens was noted, the YouTube content creators' new media savvy was perceived necessary to better cope with the website's distracting content and fickle audience.
The great thing about sponsorships is that you don’t have to give YouTube a cut. Plus, you can negotiate whatever contracts you want based on impressions and the size of your audience. In most cases, the amount of revenue you generate from sponsorships is substantially more than YouTube ad revenue. (Meanwhile, you can still generate ad revenue. So it’s like having two sources of income from the same video.)
YouTube was founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, who were all early employees of PayPal. Hurley had studied design at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Chen and Karim studied computer science together at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. According to a story that has often been repeated in the media, Hurley and Chen developed the idea for YouTube during the early months of 2005, after they had experienced difficulty sharing videos that had been shot at a dinner party at Chen's apartment in San Francisco. Karim did not attend the party and denied that it had occurred, but Chen commented that the idea that YouTube was founded after a dinner party "was probably very strengthened by marketing ideas around creating a story that was very digestible".