YouTube will be saying goodbye (so to speak) to some of their partners while handing over big bags of cash to others in the coming weeks. Over the weekend, YouTube announced that they would begin another round of original channel investing but only to around 40% of their existing partners. Consider this as YouTube’s way of renewing programming in the same way that the television industry dictates who will be coming back for another season.
With YouTube swinging the axe towards 60% of their original partners, the obvious question is (staying in the vein of television) who will be “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” and who will be the tragically ill-fated Rob Schneider vehicle “Rob.”
Far be it from me to throw around wild speculations about which YouTube programming will be receiving another round of funding, but then again who can resist a little conjecture from time to time?
Based solely on Deadline’s weekly original channel performance charts, the keepers for this next round of funding are pretty much what you would expect. Warner Music Group’s YouTube channel The Warner Sound has been dominating the YouTube charts alongside Awesomeness TV and Philip DeFranco brainchild SourceFed. Some wildcards of note have been Vice Magazine’s YouTube channel and the adrenaline-injected Red Bull YouTube channel, which gained notoriety after Felix Baumgartner broke live-stream records during his supersonic skydiving event.
Channels like SourceFed and Felicia Day’s Geek and Sundry went into the premium channel initiative with a clear understanding of what it took to make it on YouTube. Being YouTube royalty before YouTube’s first round of funding, creators like DeFranco and Day were simply able to amp up their production values while maintaining their pre-built fan bases. For mainstream celebrities offered deals as part of YouTube’s original channel program, the learning curve has proven to be much steeper.
Celebrity-built channels like Shaquille O’Neal’s Comedy Shaq and Ashton Kutcher’s The Thrash Lab have had some of the lowest growth rates since the premium channel initiative launched. Signing household names like O’Neal and Kutcher were hailed as groundbreaking moves for YouTube. As it stood, a mainstream celebrity joining YouTube was seen as a sign of web television becoming the new gold standard of entertainment. Fast-forward almost a year later, and the lethargic performance of nearly every celebrity-produced YouTube channel tells a much different story.
YouTube still belongs to its creators at the end of the day. The video-sharing site was built on the backs of young men and women working outside of traditional entertainment. This is the standard that YouTube audiences are not only used to, but also the one they prefer. YouTube is a much different beast than film or television where you can slap a celebrity’s name in the titles and expect the public to be onboard. YouTube has tried that, and the result is crystal clear: People aren’t going to YouTube to see traditional celebrities; the public is going to YouTube to visit channels specifically for them by them, which means YouTube is a new form of entertainment in almost every way possible.