YouTube is a college student’s best friend. Without a doubt, most college students’ watched “Gangnam Style” at least 4 times while procrastinating midterm studying. But is YouTube going in a new direction? Youtube is expanding world-wide on a program they have already begun in the US, which could result in hundreds of millions of dollars being paid to media companies and celebrities to produce “professional-grade” content. Now, this doesn’t sound like a bad thing at all. I can go from watching the shaky, yet classic, camera footage of “Charlie Bit My Finger to a professional comedic bit from Amy Poehler (one of the celebrities YouTube currently pays). However, YouTube’s Vice President, Global Head of Content, Robert Kyncl stated that YouTube’s road map for the next ten years gets away from low-quality user-generated videos and viral videos like “Gangnam Style”.
The purpose of this move is to generate advertising. YouTube is, after all, a business and is designed to make a profit. Google paid $1.6 billion to acquire YouTube, and of its $2.5 billion profit last year, 55% went to content creators. YouTube feels that the more professional grade content, consistently produced, will draw in the bigger advertisers and more profit.
While the creation of professional quality content from known celebrities and directors is a great initiative, it is at the risk of YouTube’s original purpose. YouTube, as the name implies, is a channel for YOU, the everyday viewer to release videos and create an audience. Who knows, that video of your friend tripping over a rock and falling in the lake could be the next YouTube hit. It could also be the next thing you and your friends, and their friends, and their parents, and the rest of the planet laughs at for a month. The point is: do we really want YouTube to move in a direction that discourages these videos?
Is the creation of professional level content worth moving away from user generated and viral videos? Do you feel YouTube is moving away from its original purpose? Do you support the intended change?