Theories on the future of TV abound. In many, YouTube looms large as a threat: “We’re the new TV, because we’re nothing like TV,” was its message to advertisers in 2013.
The online service launched in 2005 certainly has what it takes to replace traditional TV: a huge user base, an audience largely made up of sought-after Gen Zers and Millennials (both of whom have already abandoned traditional media), and a significant leg-up on traditional networks and cable operators in terms of IP video use and The Cloud.
Twenty-first century TV can be seen on a myriad of screens that look nothing like the original cathode-ray tube, adapt to the viewer’s convenience, and broadcast in any and every kind of situation. But the word ‘television’ still has the same basic connotation: moving image production, broadcasting, and public reception.
YouTube has been butting heads with traditional TV since day one, infuriated that its copyrights were being exploited without permission. Ten years of complaints and legal wrangles later, along with YouTube’s systematic removal of copyright material, the two now maintain a relationship that’s still a bit shaky but providing mutual benefits.
So is YouTube really the new tube? Not necessarily, but TV will no doubt evolve according to YouTube’s rhythm. TV will still remain a concept that reunites the three basic ideas – audiovisual content, broadcasting and public reception – but the very nature of the content, the way it’s created, produced and financed, and, most importantly, the ways it reaches its audience are being radically transformed.
It’s from this perspective that we take a look at 3 key aspects of the YouTube phenomenon: content, financing, and the new creators.