One of my favourite YouTubers, Casey Neistat, has a vlog episode (not the one in the photo above; that one’s from last week’s Vidcon with fellow YouTuber Sara Dietschy) in which an MTV show host joins Casey in a midtown Manhattan cafe. The two men are chatting with a woman, however she’s gravitating towards Casey, noting her good fortune at running into him on such an impromptu basis.
When Casey jokingly questions her about who his famous buddy standing close by is, she casually replies “oh, yeah, I know who he is”. Yet, the attention is clearly on the YouTuber. In this scenario, he’s the star in the room, not the MTV host.
Now this is going to age me, but I also remember watching the first MTV video. It was The Buggles’ Video Killed the Radio Star. Oh how true that was. Once MTV took off, we became fixated on each and every video and veejay going forward.
While music was always the core (and raison d’être) for that network’s success, let’s face it: this new format – a way to put a face to the band – was a highly effective marketing tool for the network and talent both.
So I have a theory as to why YouTube’s become so popular. Remember the LA Writer’s Guild strike back in 2007? All those fabulously talented folks who stood aside for better residuals, expansion of creative rights and other improvements?
It was the longest strike in the Guild’s history by the way. As a result, lots of productions were postponed, some shows had shortened seasons while others used non-union writers.
Although its popularity didn’t rise until almost a decade later, Reality TV came to town, a sea change in network TV.
Once unscripted (yet formatted) reality shows hit, one by one, your classic sitcom, drama and family shows were gradually replaced by The Amazing Race, Big Brother, The Biggest Loser, America’s Got Talent, American Idol, Survivor, Dancing With the Stars and countless spinoffs.
The idea was pretty basic: some form of competition, a panel of judges, and elimination.
This new breed of entertainment gradually caught on and garnered ratings and revenue for the broadcasting companies. Yet as much as these shows want to entertain, they’re just a peek into everyday lives – albeit it with celebrities.
As the internet started to expand, it brought larger amounts of bandwidth into the picture. YouTube was launched back in 2005 and in those early days, I hardly paid attention.
Three former PayPal employees decided it would be a good idea to create a space for folks to upload home videos. Boy were they on the right track.
Google bought YouTube in 2006 for US 1.65 BILLION dollars. According to 2014 stats, the video-sharing site is the third most visited site in the world with 300 hours of new video uploaded every minute. Their San Bruno California headquarters has 554,000 square feet, enough for up to 2,800 employees.
Now when my work day’s done, I’m faced with three forms of entertainment (aside from getting dinner going): TV, Netflix and YouTube.
I’ve caught up on Casey from a hotel room in London, with London beauty blogger Fleur de Force in between meetings. Mr. Ben Brown and Lilly Singh have recently perked my curiosity, a direct result of cameos on Casey’s channel.
Another direct benefit of YouTube influencers such as Casey is the music they’re using in their videos. Soundcloud explodes with reader comments every time a Neistat video is associated with one of their musicians. So perhaps this is coming full circle: now video is giving birth to the music (star).
With both YouTube and on-demand entrainment services, it’s going to be an interesting battle for TV to maintain momentum, aside from HBO, Showtime, sports, news and late-night fixtures the Jimmys, Seth Meyers, Conan, Stephen Colbert and others.
This article is in no way affiliated with YouTube, its creators nor the channels and programming mentioned above.