With all the talk about YouTube original channels asserting its role, it is become increasingly clear that like the many television programs that will dot the landscape this fall, a significant amount of them will not live beyond the first season, let alone the first thirteen episodes.
But one panelist at the recent Digital LA NewFronts event last Monday suggested that while YouTube will be growing, “90 percent” of the funded YouTube channels are destined for failure. George Ruiz of ICM, who made the prediction, joked that the only ones that would be standing are his fellow panelists. David Beebe of Fishbowl Worldwide Media concurred with Ruiz’s prediction, noting that “you look at the Fall TV season and those shows either stay or go, it’s what sinks or what floats.”
It seemed that nearly all the panelists agreed with Ruiz’s assertions. Whether Ruiz’s prediction is scientific remains to be seen; however, it is clear that some of the new original channels on YouTube may have a short shelf life, and here are 3 reasons why:
1) Trying To Mimic TV Model Too Closely
In an attempt to woo major advertisers, YouTube is investing $100 million into producing new content and a $200 million marketing push. That’s a tall order for advertisers to handle and the company understands it. However, YouTube is playing it too safe by bringing in established, mainstream personalities you see on television ad film to star in these new programs on channels such as WIGS. Problem is, audiences for entertainment programs have been and are always fickle.
Viewers have long made it clear on YouTube of what works and what doesn’t work by choosing to watch and making their voices heard on the comments page or by sharing. Failing to engage users may bring bad omens for these premium channels. If you can’t convince them with a good reason to ditch the rabbit ears, then advertisers will avoid them. That means the dreaded c-word—cancellation.
2) Viewers Value Independence
Since the first video on YouTube made its debut 7 years ago, YouTube has become a magnet for those expressing themselves or to try their luck at what they do best. Viewers have rewarded these artists with making their videos viral and effectively changing the cultural and entertainment landscape forever. In addition, what sets these independent artists on YouTube apart is their close interaction with their fans through the comments page and through the number of shares, likes and views. Without the spontaneity and independence of ambitious average Joes, dreamers and ranters, the company would not have the influence it has today. To just sprout out videos for the sake of getting advertising revenue and rewarding clout rather than talent will not necessarily mean more views for their channel.
3) YouTube Expanding Too Fast
Of course the bigger problem with YouTube’s aggressive push to bring their funded content to the masses is that they’re growing too fast. We understand YouTube has to be bold and ambitious to survive, but funding 100+ channels by summer and expect a great return on their investment? Just read this list when YouTube introduced original channels back in October and you’ll see where this is going. YouTube contends they’re funding so many channels because they want “to bring an even broader range of entertainment to YouTube, giving you more reasons to keep coming back again and again. And for advertisers, these channels will represent a new way to engage and reach their global consumers.”
It’s too much for the audiences to choose from and whatever channel withers down that road will die a lonely death. Focusing more on what has already worked and funding a smaller batch may not give that broader range that the current plan has, but it would sure save YouTube some money for content that deserves recognition.
Are YouTube’s original channels destined for success or will many crash and burn as some are predicting? Let us know below.