For over 10 years, YouTube has been the worldwide source for viewing videos and connecting with others. Countless individuals have used the platform to advocate change for the betterment of everyone. LGBTQ+ and other communities have used YouTube as a way to promote awareness for their cause and to promote change that will benefit society as a whole. However, in recent years, YouTube has been experiencing a multitude of changes that as a whole are impacting the quality of content and the creators who make it.
At first, we may see some rudimentary statistics put out by websites like Statista that come off as positive. YouTube’s gross revenue is hitting steady increases as time progresses with $12 billion in gross revenue in 2016. Although this may seem to point in the right direction, we are actually heading backward in progress. To earn revenue on YouTube, creators are required to “monetize” their channels. This enables advertisers to show their content on their channel — these are the video and banner ads you see while you watch a selected video. However, specific actions set forth by us and YouTube themselves is starting to create a slippery slope that could spell the end of it within a couple years.
We get it, we consider ads as an annoyance to us all, as it’s delaying us from what we want to watch. I, myself, was discontent with them; I sought out some way I could have peace with myself without having to be subjected to any ads. So in return, I, and millions of others, got Adblock, a free program/extension that does what’s in the name — block ads, even video ads! At first, I was jubilant! The prospect of not having to watch another ad my entire life was unheard of to me. However, it turns out my quest for convenience sacrifices the videos I view themselves! YouTuber PewDiePie pretty much sums up how we’re hurting YouTube with Adblocker:
“YouTubers lose about 40 percent of their ad income. For smaller channels, this number can be devastating.”
But wait, if YouTube has a gross revenue of $12 billion, how are creators still losing money? The answer lies in a bad combination of Adblock and revenue model.
YouTube’s Lack of Profit
Similar to that of content creators, YouTube earns its money from companies posting advertisements. However, since Google acquired YouTube in 2006, the company has been barely able to break even at its operating cost. Mainly due to what Investopedia describes as “lower ad rates and people’s propensity to skip ads — most YouTube videos made little to no money.” As a result, Google has had to take action by creating new services to pay for its lack of profit.
On Oct. 31, 2015, Google unveiled its “premium” streaming service YouTube Red. The service promised to offer exclusive content plus ad-free viewership of its videos. Charged at $9.99 a month, YouTube Red was well received by critics. But however, YouTube Red has a had an abysmal subscription rate of 10.3 percent, which is well enough to drive 5-10 percent in revenue growth for the company but shows a disinterest from the remaining 89.7 percent. YouTube Red also forced ESPN to pull most of its content from the site due to “rights issues surrounding its content,” according to TechCrunch. This leads us to the last reason why YouTube is starting to lose its ground.
What is probably the most severe event to come about against YouTube would be the “Adpocalypse.” The term was coined for a string of events starting in April of this year in which holes in YouTube’s searching algorithm were found. This allowed for homophobic, racist and misogynistic content to appear in search results for videos. In response, companies such as Coke, Nike and Adidas pulled their advertising from the site. This, in turn, causing YouTube to lose major sources of revenue. Just last week, YouTube allowed advertisers to pull ads off of over 2 million videos deemed to “targeting children.” As we can conclude by the end of this, fewer ads on videos equal less revenue for creators to make content. This is causing a snowball effect that could put many out of their jobs and livelihoods and cause us to lose access to programming we as a community have cherished for over 10 years.
So how can everyone help YouTube through this situation?
- Donate to your favorite channel! Many creators have “support” buttons next to their subscribe button or in their channel. Doing so can have a big impact on the quality of content they can make.
- Stop using Adblock — unless it’s absolutely necessary for you, disable Adblock for YouTube in order to give YouTubers what they deserve.
- Spread the word! Tell others of this info too. Doing so will help YouTube recover from these events much quicker and allow us to enjoy more of the content we love!