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Business - Written by on Monday, October 20, 2008 14:22 - 9 Comments

Denis Hancock
Broadcasting Yourself: How important is it to YouTube’s success?

YouTube’s corporate trademark of broadcast yourself would appear to indicate that the success of the site is driven by the long tail – a whole bunch of people creating and re-mixing content and then sharing it with each other. In turn, it seemed like an interesting site to dig into for our next round of research related to prosumerism – when customers actively participate in the creation of goods and services in an ongoing way. Recently I’ve started doing just that, but I’m finding that the story might be a little different – as it appears that what’s actually viewed on the site is dominated by a combination of videos repurposed from traditional media outlets, plus a select few prosumers that have proven extraordinarily popular.

To set the context for this, consider this report from Viral Manager, who “indexed a large number of YouTube videos and counted how may times they had been viewed in the first month“. The distribution of views ended up looking like this:

If you look at the numbers behind the chart, 50% of videos are viewed less than 100 times; 90% are viewed less than 1,500 times; 3% are viewed 25,000 times +; and 1% are viewed 500,000+ times. You can mix those numbers together a variety of ways, but it’s notable that the top 1% are viewed many, many more times than the bottom 90% combined.

Seeing this allowed me to spend days watching all kinds of YouTube videos in the name of “research” led me to start analyzing all of the YouTube viewership data I could get a hold of, in order to see how the prosumer story plays into this. What I was keenly interested in was the split between prosumer content (where an individual either created it themselves, or extensively re-mixed traditional media) vs. traditional media content (i.e. an SNL skit uploaded to the site, Madonna music video, etc).

Here’s a few of the high-level findings so far:

  • of the top-100 videos on a given date, approximately 1/3rd could be considered prosumer content, while the other 2/3rds should be considered traditional media content.
  • of the 15 sub-categories for content, the top-6 appear to account for the vast majority of video views. 5 of these 6 categories are dominated by traditional media content. Of the remaining 9, 4 are split roughly equally, while 5 are dominated by prosumer content.
  • it appears that the further you move towards the longtail, the higher the proportion of prosumer content is.
  • if you dig into the prosumer content itself, certain categories appear to be dominated by a couple of “superstars”, while in other categories there are indications the long tail is far more important.

I see some interesting implications emerging out of this research in terms of prosumerism and user-generated content. One of the biggest early questions is that while “broadcast yourself” is the corporate trademark, is it really that important to YouTube’s iconic success? I can definitely say that a “sample of one” outside of the research (i.e. my own viewing habits) found that most of the videos being watched were not user-generated…



9 Comments

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Wikinomics » Blog Archive » Seth Godin talks marketing & social media
Oct 27, 2008 13:30

[...] on YouTube to work for your business. This is a particularly interesting topic for me, as I’m currently researching the role of prosumer-generated content in the creation of YouTube’s iconic success. [...]

Wikinomics » Blog Archive » YouTube Stars: when do prosumers turn into producers?
Dec 11, 2008 13:25

[...] my primary research topic right now. Back in October I wrote about a piece I was working on called Broadcasting yourself: How important is it to YouTube’s Success? One of the key findings of this research was that while YouTube’s tagline indicates the [...]

Grown Up Digital » YouTube Stars: when do prosumers turn into producers?
Dec 12, 2008 18:34

[...] my primary research topic right now. Back in October I wrote about a piece I was working on called Broadcasting yourself: How important is it to YouTube’s Success? One of the key findings of this research was that while YouTube’s tagline indicates the site’s [...]

Wikinomics» Blog Archive » Emerging Trends in Viral Video - corporate content leads the way
Dec 29, 2008 17:04

[...] I have written about before, as part of my research I’ve been digging into what makes for popular videos on sites [...]

Grown Up Digital » Emerging Trends in Viral Video - corporate content leads the way
Dec 30, 2008 16:54

[...] I have written about before, as part of my research I’ve been digging into what makes for popular videos on sites like [...]

Wikinomics» Blog Archive » Fun new research topic: the NBA on Twitter
Aug 12, 2009 8:38

[...] as part of my analysis for Prosumers & YouTube: How Important is ‘broadcasting yourself’? (short answer: not as important as you might think). And I continue to keep my eye out for other potential [...]

Anya
Nov 11, 2009 23:49

i am so addicted to Youtube. I watch mostly music videos and funny videos on Youtube sometimes i also upload my own funny videos in youtube. `

Krista
Nov 19, 2009 4:34

Youtube is my super favorite website. I cant spend a day without watching music videos on Youtube.

Ayesha
Aug 9, 2010 16:38

Denis, I am currently researching on the prosumerism within youtube as well. Will it be possible to discuss a few things with you on the subject personally via an email address or something?
I would be very grateful for a little bit of your time.

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