Organizers of the latest MIPTV event invited YouTube to present the new channels it has recently launched around the world. They took the opportunity to explain the group’s strategy when it comes to content creation.
An overview of successful channels supported by YouTube
“Our Original Online Content Screenings (presented by YouTube) are intended to show the television industry there’s a lot of creative and innovative energy going into online content creation, and to promote interactions between web channels and other platforms,” said MIPTV Television Division director Laurine Garaude as she introduced the presentation.
Welcoming “YouTubers” (the platform’s active videographers) to the Auditorium’s main stage – the very same stage where some of the biggest names in film and television have stood in the past – was totally in line with this year’s MIP event motto: “Internet is the future of television.”
The ten or so channels presented, all of which are part of the YouTube monetization program and some even funded by YouTube, have recorded some of the highest loyalty rates in their respective countries.
In a different register, Pixiwoo (UK, 996K subscribers), a channel in the “hair and makeup tutorials” category (the video equivalent of beauty blogs) created by two sisters, generates more than 6.5 million cumulative views each month.
Ponk is the first non-English-language YouTube channel in Germany. Its content is comedy based and features young actors sharing an apartment.
Two similar channels created in France in late 2012 were also showcased at the event. Studio Bagel (417K subscribers), funded by YouTube, and Golden Moustache (220K subscribers), funded by the M6 Group, have both set their sights on becoming the French version of “Funny or die,” the very popular US parody website created in 2006.
The online “celebrity” phenomenon was represented by Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube. Launched only three months ago, the YouTube channel created by the British TV superstar already has over 200,000 subscribers. In his introduction video Oliver said (thumbing his nose at the networks he previously worked for): “YouTube is much more open-minded than television broadcasters and programming executives.”
YouTube seeking solid partners
Beyond the number of views, subscriber base and monetization of video content, YouTube’s presence in the global television programming market sends a very clear message. And that message is that Google is now playing with the big boys of content production through the channels it supports on its video hosting platform.
YouTube had already made its intentions known at the MIPCOM event last October. After launching 100 channels in the US as part of its “Original Channels” initiative, the video-sharing website broke into the European market knowing full well they would probably steal the thunder of local platforms like France’s Dailymotion (which has a great “motionmaker” program designed to support content creators). Surprisingly, the French website has not retaliated yet.
Last October YouTube launched 13 original channels in France (out of the 60 they’re funding throughout Europe) in partnership with traditional audiovisual producers (Capa TV, Troisième Œil productions and Endemol) and popular brands (Marmiton and auFeminin.com).
According to French newspaper Le Figaro, YouTube invested a total of $150 million in these channels and financed for anywhere from €300,000 to €700,000 per channel.
This type of financing is reminiscent of film production since it relies on concepts like “guaranteed minimum” and “advance on receipts” for content producers who only start seeing advertising revenue once everyone’s initial investment has been paid back.
YouTube and TV – Distinct but complementary
In the case of its original channels, YouTube seems to be getting inspiration from formulas that have been tried, tested and have succeeded. For one, the term “channel” is inherited from traditional television. And the race for views and subscribers is pretty much identical to the race for ratings the old school TV networks used to take part in.
Another concept inherited from TV is exclusivity. Content broadcast on channels funded by YouTube can’t be seen elsewhere. And by funding content streaming (over which they theoretically have no editorial control) as opposed to funding actual programs, YouTube has become a “true” broadcaster.
Most YouTubers are taking full advantage of the freedom the platform provides by experimenting with different formulas and run times with great ease (and very little cost). And no one talks about “time slots” anymore. Everything is about “meetings” now. Jamie Oliver is a prime example of this latest trend, setting “appointments” with viewers on his Food Tube channel three times a week to ensure their loyalty.
But what is even more appealing than creative freedom to these channels is the level of commitment shown by audiences. Most online content viewers are younger than those watching television (in the US, teenagers represent the heart of the viewership of many YT channels). They’re also more mobile and more connected as well. YouTube videos are watched on mobile screens and are also widely shared on social networks, which is more in line with today’s ”always connected” reality than traditional TV.
Audience loyalty is a priority for successful YouTubers, and many engagement mechanisms are put forward to achieve that. The number of views content gets and video quality pale in comparison to the long-term commitment of fans, which is why the concept of “subscription” has become crucial to these new channels (subscribers can be noticed as soon as a new video is posted). The fact that subscribers can also comment on videos allows both viewers and YouTubers to engage in real interaction, which is great for creators because they can easily find out what their audience wants and adapt their content accordingly.
YouTube channels are different from traditional TV networks because of their spontaneity and the direct contact that broadcasters can have with viewers. But the two can complete each other and coexist if combined in an intelligent way. The Taratata channel, based on a France Télévisions program, and the recent broadcast of a “best of” show highlighting the greatest in YT Golden Moustache channel content on the W9 network (both of which belong to the M6 Group), are both great examples of successful combinations.
So while Netflix broke into content production, guns blazing, with House of Cards and Amazon is following suit with its adaptation of the Zombieland movie into a series, YouTube is focused on strengthening its position as the world leader in online video broadcasting. In order to achieve this the platform has to rely on concepts used by the very model it’s trying to surpass while maintaining what is at the core of its operations (and which makes it so different): the freedom of content, both in tone and format, and the possibility of interacting freely with the audience.
For more information, you can watch the entire MIPTV conference entitled “YouTube’s Original Online Content Screenings.”