At the beginning of every year, those of us in entertainment writing start making predictions as to how the New Year will pan out for our chosen industries. Due to the fact that only a few of us posses time travel technology, those predictions are often wildly inaccurate or exist solely in the “no shit” category.
Last year, my predictions that “humans will continue to need oxygen” and “YouTube will become sentient and develop sex robots to enslave humanity” left me at a pitiful 50% success rate. To avoid any further embarrassment, I have decided to take this 2013 prediction article in a different direction.
It’s easy to guess at what might become of the digital video community in 2013. Ray William Johnson will continue to be swarthy, young girls will always like SMOSH, and YouTube will become sentient and develop sex robots to enslave humanity. See? It’s easy.
It is much harder to, without a shadow of a doubt, predict what will not come to pass in 2013. These are the trends and developments that will absolutely 100% not be transpiring within this funny little community we call digital video.
YouTube will never go back to their old layout, circa 2007
I know it stings, dear reader, but this is the way the digital video winds are blowing. In 2013, YouTube is focused on one thing and one thing only – becoming an entertainment network. This means that you have a better chance of meeting Batman and kissing him on the mouth than being featured in the “Recommended Channels” section. Gone are the days of sending YouTube an email in hopes of having your channel featured. 2013’s YouTube is built for partners with dedicated fans and an expert knowledge of viewer engagement.
Did you think YouTube turning people’s smartphones into remote controls while simultaneously launching updated apps for Xbox, PS3, and connected devices was a coincidence? YouTube is on its way to becoming a full-fledged entertainment network. 2007’s layout unfortunately, shares shelf space with the dinosaur and harem pants. Wait, what? Justin Bieber wore them … dammit.
YouTube networks won’t go away
Hand in hand with YouTube’s big network plans, digital creative agencies are here to stay. With the promise of big advertising bucks funneling straight into creator’s pockets comes executives looking for a little slice. From the moment the first YouTube network was conceived, the digital video ecosystem found itself unable to exist without them.
As soon as networks started signing YouTube’s biggest talent, they established themselves as the penultimate destination for aspiring creators. With that, networks convinced everyone in digital video that they were a necessary result of YouTube’s smash success.
One-shot viral videos won’t go extinct on YouTube
As much as YouTube is angling towards network-style content, the video-sharing platform will always have a place for talking cats. People will always need a place to share giraffe fights and whatever the next “Gangnam Style” is. Viral videos are the heralds of YouTube. They introduce new audiences to the video-sharing site. Once there, partners and established creators can keep them hooked and coming back for more. Viral videos are the builders and YouTube partners are the maintainers.
Cats will never stop being entertaining
Mainstream celebrities won’t find a voice on YouTube
It’s been tried, and it’s failed. YouTube offered dozens of mainstream celebrities their own channels in the great premium channel initiative of 2012, and the results spoke for themselves. The mentality was this: If a celebrity has a big enough name, people will watch no matter what. However, as the sinking channels of Amy Poehler and Shaquille O’Neal prove, YouTube audiences aren’t that easily fleeced. Supporters of the YouTube community want creators to mirror them – veterans of the industry who earned their success through countless hours of grinding (the nonsexual variety).
What are your predictions or anti-predictions for 2013? Will North Korea launch a YouTube knockoff site only to have it crash land back to Earth? Will Ray William Johnson start a religious cult where all members must drink a ceremonial “punch” at the deliverance ceremony? The future is a mystery.