Her answer was simple: “Bright lights, extraneous elements, and faster pacing.” In one of the videos I had her watch, a little boy dances flanked by two cows on a stage. A crowd waves its hands in the foreground. Lights flash and stars spin in the background. The boy and the cows perform “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” and as they do, the dance floor lights up, à la Saturday Night Fever. Johnson told me all that movement risks distracting kids from any educational work the videos might do.
The 1990s and 2000s saw the growth of cable TV channels targeted at children. With the rise of ubiquitous merchandising deals and niche content, powerful American media companies such as Disney, Turner, and Viacom figured out how to make money off young kids. They created, respectively, the Disney Channel, the Cartoon Network, and, of course, Nickelodeon, which was the most watched cable channel during traditional television’s peak year, 2009–10 (Nielsen’s measurement period starts and ends in September). Since then, however, little kids have watched less and less television; as of last spring, ratings in 2018 were down a full 20 percent from just last year. As analysts like to put it, the industry is in free fall. The cause is obvious: More and more kids are watching videos online.
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.
The good news is that income is rising, but efforts to generate a broad and loyal audience that turn to the service on a regular basis for original content appear to have hit a wall. The Journal points out how three years ago YouTube spent hundreds of millions of dollars on original content to build new channels, only to see many of them fail. Getting people to visit the site directly and regularly because there’s something specific they want to see, rather than dropping by occasionally via a link on another site or online service, appears to be a big challenge for the company.
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.”
Don’t think watching someone play PS4 sounds like fun? Markiplier’s 22.4 million YouTube subscribers, with their 10 billion video views of his work, beg to differ. Indeed, Fischbach is one of five gamers on this year’s list. The top 10 YouTube stars earned an aggregate $180.5 million this past year, up 42% from 2017. It pays to play: Compared with other common YouTube categories, such as scripted comedy or elaborate pranks, gaming clips can be produced and edited quickly; some gamers post new footage daily. More posts mean more viewers, naturally—and more ad dollars. (The going rate for top online talent, Forbes estimates, is about $5 per thousand views.)
For kids to have the best chance of learning from a video, Johnson told me, it must unfold slowly, the way a book does when it is read to a child. “Calmer, slower-paced videos with less distracting features are more effective for younger children,” she said. “This also allows the video to focus attention on the relevant visuals for the song, thus aiding in comprehension.”
In March 2017, the government of the United Kingdom pulled its advertising campaigns from YouTube, after reports that its ads had appeared on videos containing extremism content. The government demanded assurances that its advertising would "be delivered in a safe and appropriate way". The Guardian newspaper, as well as other major British and U.S. brands, similarly suspended their advertising on YouTube in response to their advertising appearing near offensive content. Google stated that it had "begun an extensive review of our advertising policies and have made a public commitment to put in place changes that give brands more control over where their ads appear". In early April 2017, the YouTube channel h3h3Productions presented evidence claiming that a Wall Street Journal article had fabricated screenshots showing major brand advertising on an offensive video containing Johnny Rebel music overlaid on a Chief Keef music video, citing that the video itself had not earned any ad revenue for the uploader. The video was retracted after it was found that the ads had actually been triggered by the use of copyrighted content in the video.
But what about the cost of servers, bandwith etc? I think it might be in the range of $750 million per year to as high as $1.5 Bn plus ( we will never know as Google never reveals cost of running youtube, and Google has invested heavily in this space ). I feel Youtube as a standalone business MAY NOT be as profitable a biz as Search and might never be since barely 10% of its content is actually monetizable. But for Google, with $30 Billion revenues, Youtube losses( even if money lost is as high as say $500 million per year) is chump change considering the strategic advantage it gives visavis competition. (Microsoft online businesses lost way more last 10 years). Youtube subsidy by Google has created a monopoly which has effectively destroyed all independent video ad network business plans.
Its a place where billions of people gather to listen to the voice of another, its not just a business anymore, its a massive public forum and its speakers deserve the protection of free speech laws, youtube needs to ditch the algorythm, tell advertisers to suck it up, tell copyright trolls that content will no longer be removed and usher in some new laws to stop copyright trolls from making youtube accountable for content and any complaints about a video should be raised to law enforcement of the region the video originated from, where the video can be reviewed by a person, and have a fixed fine for the origin of the complaint if the video was not considered a crime.
YouTube has focused on developing online personalities such as video game player PewDiePie, music video specialist Smosh and style guru Michelle Phan. Driving much of the traffic to YouTube, analysts say, are multichannel networks such as Fullscreen, Maker Studios, SonyBMG and Whistle Sports. Google has bought stakes in multichannel networks such as Vevo and Machinima, analysts say, to ensure their content stays on its website.
“Even if advertisers are paying a decent amount to promote their products through video ads, only a portion of their expenditures ever make it into content creators’ pockets,” says entrepreneur Michael Johnston. “For example, if advertisers are paying an average of $20 per 1,000 ad impressions, the videos where those ads are being shown may only generate $2 or $3 per 1,000 views.”
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.