Thursday, April 13, 2017

Youtube Changes - Where Now?

The news last week that Youtube is demonitizing firearms channels, coupled with their announcement of Youtube TV has me wondering about the future of small broadcasters on that platform.
I'm hardly first on this topic. Game Theorists have been talking about this for two years now, Blonde in the Belly of the Beast covered the removal of ads from conservative and controversial media a couple of months ago, and even Simone Giertz the "Queen of Sh**ty Robots" talked about it in terms of her channel scaring off advertisers last year.

Meanwhile, log out and look at the Youtube front page. It's filled with videos from channels and artists with massive corporate backing. Saturday Night Live, Wired, Buzzfeed, all of it pushing independent channels down and off the page. Unlike the early days of Youtube, where sharing some amazing talent was usually enough to go viral, now the kid with a golden voice in Topeka is competing with artists from every major record label for play time.

But that's still not the worst problem. You can be a niche interest and still survive, provided you're making a product that some people care about. You may not get much play beyond whatever that interest group is, but if those revenue checks keep coming in, it's fine, right? Sure. Right up until Google decides that your niche shouldn't be monetized either.

It's not difficult to see what could happen. Forget advertisers not wanting to have their commercials shown ahead of certain videos, if NBC gets tired of Saturday Night Live being mocked by a bunch of piss-ant little satirists who are funnier than SNL's been in two decades, who's going to win that one? Why should "real musicians" have to share a platform with a bunch of cover-singing kids?

Maybe I'm wrong. I really hope I am. But, as I see it, there are four options for those of us who post videos on youtube.

1. Blow it all up. If you've already been demonitized, and you just want to burn it down, deleting your channel might be an option. Maybe with a note, gone to [INSERT OTHER VIDEO SITE HERE]. Problem is, Youtube is still one of the world's biggest search engines, and much like Google itself, a lot of people simply aren't going to see you on or because they won't search there. Furthermore, what would it really accomplish? If PewDiePie deleted his channel tomorrow, sure a bunch of his fans would miss him, the gaming press would run a few articles, and then? The Tonight Show tosses up a bunch of new clips and life goes on. I honestly don't think a bunch of independent creatives leaving would generate much more than a blip at this point. It might harm Youtube long term, but probably not.

2. Clip shows. The way I figure it, if your channel is already being demonitized, you might as well move to another platform for most of your content. But, don't ignore Youtube. Again, the giant search engine needs to be considered. If this is your boat, then I would be thinking about making a clip video or two every week, load it up with keywords, and post that to your channel. It may not get you any direct revenue, but it's more likely to drive at least some viewers to your new home.

3. Multi-platform. This is what I'm doing, starting with adding all my good gameplay videos to and eventually getting caught up with where my Youtube channel is. I doubt gameplay videos are in danger of getting demonitized anytime soon, but covering my bases and trying to get ahead of the exodus trend I expect to happen seems like a good plan.

4. Ostrich Algorithm. Do nothing and ignore the problem. Honestly, if I were just a Youtube viewer, or only interested in sharing an occasional cat video or sharing something cute my kids are doing for a select audience, this is a perfectly valid thing to do.

One thing's for certain,Youtube five years from now will be a radicially different place than it is now. Then again, Youtube 2017 is far different than Youtube 2012, and that's far different than Youtube 2008 (which was when I uploaded my first video. My how time flies).

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