The Ever-Changing YouTube Platform
A lot of you will be aware that YouTube shows off some really cool things; from your favourite cat videos to gamers letting off some steam on the latest titles, you can see it all on YouTube. Television is interested in the platform and there’s a constant flux between YouTube and it’s community. Join Timlah as we look at the platform with a critical eye, looking at the changes over the years and what we all do for the content creators whenever we click on a video.
YouTube is a really cool place. It’s where I spent a lot of my teenage years and now, more teenagers than ever, are on there. They’re watching more content on the platform, they’re even participating in the video creation process to let the world see how good they are. However, it’s become apparent that the community on YouTube have changed drastically. Not only have the community changed, but the face of YouTube has changed over the course of many years. Not only has the face changed: But the very essence of what being a YouTuber and what being a content creator on the platform has meant over the years. Let me take you back in time by nearly 10 years; to 2007.
On April 22nd, 2007, Tay Zonday produced what would be his most popular video, Chocolate Rain. People were amazed, astonished and some probably found it a little bit funny at the time. With captions such as “**I move away from the mic to breathe in”, it was quite amusing – Plus the constant of looking away from the microphone it was a little surreal. At the same time: It was a great song, which reached amazing heights on YouTube. If it were a sale for every hit on the video, it’d have hit diamond status a staggering 10 times. Back when it first came out then, I doubt Tay himself would have ever imagined the staggering numbers he would wrack up on the video sharing platform.
He was just one of many people who were producing videos that entertained the world. From Tay to the I Like Turtles kid whose video was also published in 2007, the YouTube community and the people who published videos to the platform were nearly inexplicably different to the successful channels of today. Videos back in the day would be made, not necessarily to be funny, or witty, but to be seen and heard. They were made to be expressive, they were made for fun. They were made because people enjoyed making videos and if you got hyper lucky and your video went viral, you could turn on revenue for your video and make a few quid. It was a wonderful place and a wonderful time to be on YouTube. But then, along the way, something happened to the back end of YouTube, the algorithms, which changed just about everything.
In a strange twist; the platform that consisted of people trying to have a bit of fun and ending up making a lot of money out of it, were being changed. Silently, YouTubes search engine had changed; from just whatever was trending that day to go onto the front page, to intentionally changing the suggested videos based upon what the viewer had seen. Couple this with how animators got treated when the algorithm changes came in, we saw a huge decline in animation, although there was still that strong following. Instead, YouTube praised videos around a specific length, which I will admit: I stick to around as close to as I can when making my videos. It’s about 15 minutes; so you’ll see some of my videos come in around the 13 and some up to about the 20 minute mark for my Let’s Play series. That brings me on nicely to…
Let’s Players – Don’t worry, this is no dig at them, for I myself am a Let’s Player as many of you are aware. I’m not as active as many, but I thoroughly enjoy making each and every episode. I enjoy the process of recording footage and getting my commentary live. I love hearing myself back and cringing at my stupid wording, or how silly I sound when I overreact at the most basic of errors in a game. I find editing to be quite relaxing, I find the community who have seen my videos to be very encouraging and supportive. I’m not going to be everyones cup of tea. I don’t have the time, nor the money to put into my videos. I don’t earn anything off of them – Maybe one day? Isn’t that the dream?
But I’ve gone slightly off topic here…
See, the reason I bring Let’s Players up is the algorithm changed and it supported Let’s Players, or LPers more. The time format was good for them, as it meant you could churn out many videos for the sake of some editing. It meant each individual video probably wouldn’t get as much money – But all that mattered back then was “How many people watched your video?” and “How long did people watch?”. With all of this in mind, it’s no surprise that LPers like to make their videos go on for around that magical 15 minute mark. It’s no surprise that people keep it short and sweet and plentiful. One video game, which could take a few recordings, could now be dragged out for tens, fifties or even hundreds of episode!
But there were a few people who decided: “Actually, I want to create more than just episodes of me playing video games”. Anyone with a half-decent computer could record and share themselves playing games, but some went further. Some decided to use their actual attributes and skills in their videos. Some wanted to animate still, some wanted to build songs and some wanted to put some scary puppets on YouTube. For more information on said scary puppets, join us again tomorrow as Joel looks at some! Nevertheless, it takes a brave YouTuber to spend time doing something against the grain on the platform. However, whenever we click, we’re effectively telling them to keep it up. Each view is an amazing feeling for a content creator: It’s their work on display for people.
YouTube recently created YouTube Red, which was a funny name for most at the start, but I’ve finally see it being used. I’ve been following a channel called The Game Theorists for quite some time. I didn’t really know how to approach the topic of YouTube Red. Basically, think of it as being able to charge people to have access to the content. Now, this isn’t a bad thing, but channels could literally change how they work full stop. We have the power to pay: and The Game Theorists have used YouTube Red in a way that really makes me happy. They’ve not forgotten about their fans who just want access to their content: But they provide extra content for those who are willing to buy it. The above video is the first in their YouTube Red series: Can Gamers SURVIVE the Real Mirror’s Edge – Game Lab. This is free to watch – a sort of “Try before you buy”. But the rest of their normal episodes will remain the same.
I’m excited to see that YouTube are supporting people who want to seriously make a living off of their full-time job of creating fun, high quality YouTube videos. But how will the future of YouTube change what content creators do, to please the fans? What do you think the answer is? Let us know in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit – What’s the future of YouTube and viral videos in general? Are the days of people like Tay over, or is YouTube Red a good substitute to something like Patreon? Share your thoughts!