We’ve all heard the old phrase, ‘You don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg.’ And for years, YouTube‘s API was that golden goose. But after tweaking it to make the streaming giant more curated, YouTubers have begun to complain that their views have dropped 5 to 7%, as their followers don’t know when a new video has come out. Overall, the data shows a stunning 10% drop in viewership between July and September. Has YouTube shot itself in the foot, or are they merely evolving again?
“I started by pulling daily view/sub growth data from January 1, 2016 – November 30, 2016 for every channel with more than 10 million subscribers. From there, I weeded out channels that weren’t actually YouTube personalities; accounts managed by record labels (like VEVO channels) and television studios (like The Ellen Show), primarily. That left us with 49 of the biggest channels on YouTube.” – Social Blade Community Manager Danny Fratella (via Kotaku)
The data comes from Social Blade, a site which studies the impact of social media on the internet, and this year they have been pulling growth data on YouTube viewership and its affects on Channel growth.
Taking a look at channels with more than 10 million subscribers, but focusing on home grown channels (weeding out corporate channels like Vevo), Social Blade discovered that these so called “celebrity” YouTubers are experiencing a noticeable drop in their viewership after a recent change in the search and subscription algorithm, which has caused many of their videos to go unwatched.
YouTube responded by claiming that the stats quoted by Social Blade are inaccurate, saying that the metrics are being misrepresented and incorrectly interpreted. But Social Blade says that they grabbed the data directly from the YouTube API, and that. “We don’t make up data. We get it from the YouTube API. We rely on it for accuracy. If it has issues maybe ping them?”
The streaming giant has not only decided to adjust their channels to more curated recommendations, over a subscriber based algorithm, but a recent viewer audit by the portal has resulted in YouTube removing so called “invalid playbacks” from view counts, as well as dormant viewers from subscriber roles
Channel owners are even complaining that subscribers are being purged randomly as well. These purges have caused many YouTubes to lose revenue, which is based on a combination of subscriptions and viewer statistics, and has caused many more channels to follow their viewership data a lot more closely.
They are also pushing their viewers to enable notifications so that they will be notified when a new video goes up. That’s wise, and reflects a trend towards using notifications on mobile devices to get the word out. But will it stem the tide of lost viewership?
On top of that, the streaming giant will prevent monetization of certain videos that are not “advertiser friendly,” and only YouTube decides what that means. It’s also changing the way they promote certain videos that they want to send viral. The idea is that a low quality cellphone video of breaking news should get more attention than that of their major content creators, who provide the portal with the cream of the crop of their content. They are also squeezing out brand-sponsored videos that are a large part of content creator’s ancillary revenue.
But there are also some who believe that YouTube is just trying to promote videos that deserve the viral treatment, and that no channel is entitled to promotion merely because of their subscriber rates. Here’s a video that tries to outline that in greater detail:
My view on YouTube is that the channel is going to make changes that will improve their position to make money for itself, but not necessarily for content creators. The streaming giant wants to attract more advertising dollars, which means paying much closer attention to what those advertisers view as friendly content. That’s understandable. But how long will it be before we see video ratings on YouTube as a result? Can you imagine, “This video is rated PG-13 for bad language and violence” card before a Freddie Wong short?