Everyone on the internet loves to speculate about the future of Tumblr. Ever since Yahoo snapped up the popular social blogging service in 2013, bloggers and tech enthusiasts have been wondering how Yahoo planned to make Tumblr worth it’s $1.1 billion price tag. Aside from integrating ads and banning X-rated content, Yahoo hasn’t done much with its expensive new toy. The only thing pundits enjoy pondering more than the future of Tumblr is the question of how Yahoo plans to compete with Google’s video powerhouse, YouTube. Now it seems those two questions might have intersecting answers.
According to a report from Business Insider, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is planning to give Tumblr a video-heavy revamp to turn it into a YouTube competitor. Previously Yahoo’s video plans have all rested on Yahoo Screen, the company’s current streaming video platform. However, despite building up its audience through a handful of stunts including a yearlong live concert series and the rescue of several cancelled cult TV favorites, Yahoo Screen has never lived up to its billing as a YouTube slayer. The lifeblood of YouTube is user generated from its roster of homegrown creators. Yahoo has reportedly tried to woo YouTubers in the past with promises of a more profitable home on its own video platform. In that regard Tumblr, with its endlessly reblogged memes, has more in common with the video giant and might make a more appealing home for YouTubers than sterile Yahoo Screen. So can Yahoo turn Tumblr into YouTube 2.0? Let’s break down the pros and cons.
Tumblr is already a familiar and friendly environment to many of YouTube’s social media savvy creators. YouTubers like Tyler Oakley, Connor Franta, and Zoella already have a major presence on Tumblr and gifs and memes of popular YouTubers are a familiar part of the Tumblr ecosystem.
Tumblr has an undeniable cool-factor. Unlike Yahoo Screen which is a built in part of the lumbering Yahoo mothership, Tumblr acts as an independent division of Yahoo in much the way that YouTube does with Google.
YouTubers have long grumbled about the 55/45 split on ad revenue from videos. Yahoo has money to burn from the $9 billion payout on their investment in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and could easily put some of that money to work offering a more favorable split or even paying advances to popular creators.
Unlike other potential YouTube competitors, Tumblr can already offer YouTubers access to a large user base, one that lines up closely with their existing YouTube viewership.
Turning Tumblr into a video first platform would mean big changes to the way the site currently functions. One of Tumblr’s greatest strengths is its own freewheeling creative community. A push toward video runs the risk of alienating the already very vocal Tumblr community.
YouTubers are already comfortably using Tumblr to supplement and promote their YouTube content. As things stand, Tumblr with its endlessly streaming dashboards of content doesn’t offer the same security as YouTube’s dedicated channels and subscription boxes.
Yahoo is ready to address some of YouTubers’ long running grievances but YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki is already on the case. Since assuming the role she’s spent a lot of her time listening to the YouTube community. Several rounds of highly visible television and print ads for YouTubers and a recently announced plan to fund original content from creators has gone a long way toward mending fences.
Tumblr may be an established social media brand, but it’s untested as a video hub. For independent creators to jump from a familiar home at the web’s most popular video destination to an untested platform is a major risk.
The Verdict: Like most things it’s too soon to tell. No one at Yahoo or Tumblr has officially commented on the plan or even confirmed its existence. Of all the many, many, many, many supposed YouTube competitors floating around out there, Tumblr has more potential than most. It’s already social and already relies on user generated content. Still, with YouTube taking big steps to address its creators’ major concerns there are fewer and fewer incentives for creators to leave in the first place. Instead of asking “Can Tumblr compete with YouTube?” it may be wiser to ask “Do we need a YouTube competitor at all?”
Share this article and let us know in the comments if you would make the jump to Tumblr to follow your favorite YouTuber!