Wednesday 3 April 2013

Lessons learned from YouTube's big push

In October 2011, YouTube announced plans to roll out 100 new "Original Channels," with content to be created by selected people/organizations, and funded by YouTube.

Two of the people who received funding were John Green and Hank Green. They set up channels called CrashCourse and SciShow. On March 25, 2013, Hank Green wrote a piece about the experience on his blog Hank's Tumblr, and gave his views on what did, and did not, work.

Extrapolating from Hank's report, some of the lessons learned from the experience are as follows:

Of the 114 channels that YouTube funded as part of this initiative, my educated guess is that exactly one earned back its advance… SourceFed, the four-times-daily news show from Phil DeFranco’s studio. (SourceFed is gritty, low-budget, written by its hosts, and edited by a tiny team.)

Most of the channels that did well had comparatively small budgets and were run by people who had made online video before.

SciShow and CrashCourse are not doing terribly. At this rate, we’ll earn out our advance in about three years.

Spending more money to produce the same number of minutes of content does not increase viewership.

Online video isn’t about how good it looks, it’s about how good it is.

People who make online video are much better at making online video than people who make TV shows. This probably seems obvious to you (it certainly is to me) but it apparently was not obvious to the people originally distributing this money.

When advertising agencies tell you they want something (higher quality content, long-form content, specific demographics, lean-back content, stuff that looks like TV), it’s not our job to attempt to deliver those things. In a world where the user really does get to choose, the content created to satisfy the needs and wants of viewers (not advertisers) will always reign supreme.

YouTube is now experimenting with much smaller grants (a tenth to a fifth of the size of the original grants) awarded largely to people who have experience making online video (the new MentalFloss channel is funded by one of these grants.)
You can read the original post here.

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