‘2013 YouTube Study’ Author on His Most Surprising Findings and the Future of YouTube [INTERVIEW]


That’s the same problem that the YouTube Creator Playbook has. Any thoughts on the Playbook after doing this study?

I think the playbook is a great document and, if anything, this study proves that YouTube is making a smart decision by creating separate playbooks for musicians, comedians, etc.

If YouTube wanted you to rewrite the playbook, would that interest you? Is there anything you’d add or take away?

I’d add results of our study to it. Seriously, the Playbook is great but it uses anecdotal evidence, examples of hugely popular channels, to support their points.  Many people look at the advice and say, “Well, is this point really that important?” I think some of the numbers from our study can help in convincing people that they are.

This is something I encounter when I teach our students how to create online video content and build audiences. Students would say, “Is having a Facebook or Twitter really that important?” Now I can say that 100 percent of studied channels have them so I suspect it is. The same goes for video length or frequency of posting.

In my experience too many people try to make the TV model work on YouTube. What they would really like to do is to make ten 20-minute long episodes of a serialized series. And they would really rather not bother engaging their audiences on social media. I think this study helps to show them that it might be difficult for them to find an audience on this platform.

How did you get into studying YouTube?

I worked with Valentina on her YouTube channel Val’s Art Diary since 2006 and have been very much involved ever since. I’ve seen the platform mature and watched it very closely for the last six years.

That lead me to being very interested in this platform as an academic, and I created multiple courses on this topic. I also produced an Emmy-nominated web series “YouTupolis.” I love YouTube.

As do I! As someone who’s been on YouTube since (almost) the start, what do you think the future of the platform entails?

The future of the platform, and entertainment industry in general, is an enormous content saturation.

There will be a ton of content to watch and competition for audience will be fierce. The 20th century media was a viewer in front of a TV screen deciding between three channels. The 21st century media is a viewer deciding between, literally, millions of channels. This is going to have a huge impact on media and entertainment industry, and YouTube is leading the way.

I want to be optimistic about the chances of an independent creator in this new world but I am afraid that it will be the branded content that will get most exposure. Many people see this post-gatekeeper era as a time when the doors are wide open for aspiring content creators to find their audience. My feeling is that the doors are just cracked open but the fact that that opening exists is something worth celebrating.

Are you going to be in L.A. for VidCon?

Yes, I’ll be on a panel at VidCon. It’s called “How is Digital Being Taught,” and it’s on the afternoon of Thursday, August 1.

I couldn’t agree more. Any final thoughts?

Can’t think of anything smart to say without my students feeding me the important data.

About the author: 

Ali Jardine is fabulously modest. He’d never tell you, that, for example, he’s been making videos on YouTube since 2007 and nor would he tell you that he produced Stickaid, which raised over £20,000 for UNICEF back in 2011. You can follow him on Twitter and YouTube.

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