YouTube has been around since the very early days of the Internet as we know it today. Launched in 2005, it was set up as the first mainstream video streaming service and was a revolutionary idea. As the name suggests, YouTube’s concept was that anyone could make a video and upload it for the world to see. While this concept has remained vaguely true, it isn’t hard to notice that YouTube seems to have got a little lost in recent years.
Along with the original content uploaded onto YouTube, it was also easy for copyrighted material to be uploaded and the issue was seldom dealt with, unless a rights owner complained to YouTube themselves. It was when Google bought the innovative site for over $1bn that it really became a business. Over the last decade, artists and companies have uploaded their work onto the site and the site has become a huge platform for media enterprises. For example, when the music video for Adele’s Hello was uploaded to YouTube in 2015, it took only 48 hours to reach 50 million views, something record producers could have only dreamed of back in the days before YouTube.
It is in the midst of all this mass-produced, easily accessible media enterprises that the original concept of YouTube has faded further and further into obscurity, with the brand name making consistently less and less sense. There are still a range of original content creators on YouTube who have successfully reached a status of somewhat celebrity and have managed to earn some sort of living from the site. Original content creators produce vlogs (a portmanteau of video blogs) and if they achieve enough views, can generate an income from Google’s advertising service AdSense.
For some creators, however, lucrative sponsorship offers and book deals can also be a good source of income. Some of the most successful YouTubers include PewDiePie (who is rumored to earn around $12m a year), beauty vlogger Zoella (who thanks to her sponsorship deals with UK make-up brands and best-selling books is worth a cool $3.2m) and British singer Emma Blackery, who has over 1.5 million subscribers. However, with YouTube’s latest ventures over the last few years, it seems that anyone wanting to make it big on YouTube now has well and truly missed the boat.
“Broadcast yourself”? Not anymore…
In the present day, it seems that DVDs are now retro (does anyone even remember VHS?) and that streaming is the way to go. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are undoubtedly the two most popular subscribe and stream service. Now, though, it seems that YouTube has totally forgotten its original purpose and is now setting up a free service in which users can stream select films. It will be funded merely by advertising. But with millions happily paying $10.99 a month for a sleek, ad-free service from Netflix, you have to wonder – is it even worth it? Sure, it’s better than watching films illegally online but whether this is just going to be another pointless venture set up by Google bosses (Google Plus eventually died its long overdue death only last month) and whether YouTube really has lost its way in this world of streaming and the worldwide determination to pay as little as possible for a movie which cost millions to make.