The Birth of The Multi-Channel Network
Often created by ex-YouTuber partners themselves, multi-channel networks brought creators, and subsequently YouTube, into a brand new realm of entertainment. What was once homegrown video content created on razor-thin budgets quickly became massive six-figure productions supported by marketers, publicists, directors, writers and agents — and with that came problems. Already, networks have experienced numerous scandals, many of which mirror the same issues faced by traditional media.
YouTube Launches the Original Channel Initiative
This is the first time in YouTube’s history that Google invested in the concept of turning the platform into a television-style hub for entertainment. Investing $100 million into 100 channels was a sign that Google had acknowledged that YouTube creators were more than kids uploading content in their rooms. These were people Google banked on, and the result spoke volumes about the true nature of YouTube.
While the initiative was meant to propel YouTube creators into stardom, Google also invested in mainstream celebrities giving them untold amounts of money to develop channels. As expected, the majority of celebrity channels failed, and it became clear that YouTube audiences did not want celebrities; they wanted creators — people like them uploading daily videos.
YouTube Becomes a Major News Outlet
With its mix of hardcore journalism provided by channels like “The Young Turks” and citizen journalists uploading hours of cellphone footage, YouTube quickly became a gold standard in news consumption. Footage of the earthquake that hit Japan in 2011 were among some of the most-viewed videos throughout the year, many of them originating on YouTube via citizen journalists. As hours of video depicting unrest in the Arab Spring and police brutality were, and continue to be, uploaded to YouTube, the site has become the destination for the uncensored voices of the people.
The rise of South Korean pop sensation Psy and his unbearably catchy anthem “Gangnam Style” brought on the first global YouTube megastar. As the pop hit received over 1 billion views for the first time in YouTube’s history, the Google-owned platform became an outlet that had the potential to create a massive culture-spanning star out of a single viral hit.