Will YouTube become an Old Media Numbers Game?

Deadline, an online entertainment news blog, announced this week  that in an effort to help viewers orient themselves with the most popular channels, they have created a ranking of the top 96 original fully funded YouTube channels.

Using data from VidStatsX, Deadline will compile a ranking of the top channels based on their total views; each week the channel ranking will be updated based on the weekly views .

Michael Davis, Chief of Video Strategy and Programming at PMC which is Deadline’s parent company was enthusiastic about the blog’s new endeavor, hopeful that the ranking would tap into the ever expanding digital market and help viewers and advertisers navigate YouTube more easily.

“YouTube’s channels collectively have become an important new platform for audiences and advertisers. We decided it was about time to show which efforts are and aren’t working,” said Davis.

When asked if this list may lead to increased competition among the channels, and a fight for viewership and advertising, Davis had this to say, “Channels already compete for viewers’ time and advertisers’ dollars. This just helps Deadline readers to know the score.”

Regardless of the intent of Deadline to create essentially a TV guide-like list for YouTube viewers, this sort of ranking system has traditionally been a key factor in the network competition of traditional media which has been primarily linked viewership with ad dollars.

Eric Day, is the Co-Founder of Trium which has created popular programming in both traditional and new media, with hit shows that include the Biggest Loser(NBC)  and Switched (ABC Family). Day had an interesting take on whether this new ranking system would make the digital market more like traditional media, with YouTube channels in constant competition to increase viewership.

“It’s still too early to tell if this new weekly rating system will impact the channels and users in terms of viewer opinion. Although the data suggests some viewers on YouTube gravitate toward channels and videos with lots of views and subscribers, word-of-mouth endorsement with shares and cross-linking between channels remains critical on YouTube. I doubt “ratings” like this will have much impact in the near term on viewership,” said Day.

Day went on to say that ratings on YouTube are not currently a main factor in attracting advertisers, stating that competition for advertising based on channel viewership ranking is a characteristic of traditional media and those metrics were from another era.

Although the list is intended to help viewers sort through the top 96 original YouTube channels, there is no doubt that list could lead to increased competition among the channels.

We asked Sarah Penna, Co-Founder and head of Talent at Big Frame the creators of BAMMO (number 54 on Deadline’s list) how the list could potentially affect the content creators of Youtube, and if the increased competition could lead to buying viewers to stay in the game.

Penna had this to say, “I think it’s inevitable that YouTube rankings are going to start becoming more and more like TV. Of course online does open up increased opportunity for “gaming the system” and buying views, but in the end, good quality content will continue to pull the real eyeballs. BAMMO will continue to produce high quality content with the concept of collaboration, rather than competition, driving it.”

Only time will tell if Deadline’s list will be a game changer in determining the future relationship between channel viewership numbers and advertising dollars, and if this newest development will drag the hub of digital media back into the dark ages of TV network competition

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