YouTube's Partner Problem
YouTube -- which is undergoing all kinds of changes at once -- is experiencing some growing pains, it seems.
As the Google-owned video hub seeks to attract more premium video content and stronger engagement with its videos, it’s having difficulty keeping its huge stable of YouTube Partners happy.
Gradual changes rolled out over the last few months have incensed some YouTube partners -- particularly the smaller ones, who in response have banded together to create a new movement called “SaveYouTube. The video that kicked it all off had been viewed nearly 40,000 times as of Tuesday morning.
The changes include removing inactive or closed accounts from YouTube partner subscription numbers and tweaking its recommended video algorithm to favor engagement over clicks. Both moves have resulted in partners having fewer overall subscribers and video views.
In a blog post last week, YouTube outlined the reasons for the changes, saying that the inactive or closed accounts had not been used “for years,” and that view counts that reflect time spent with a video are ultimately “more useful” for YouTube Partners.
Now, if YouTube users click on a video but don’t stick with it, that video will not get shown as often in the suggested and recommended videos section as it would have before the change. “The best way to prevent this is to create compelling videos that people stick around for,” YouTube said.
The video-sharing giant ends its blog post by telling users that change -- even change for the best -- is often hard, but that the data is already supportive of the move: net daily subscriptions are up more than 50 percent since January and watch time has been increasing steadily for the last two months.
As Forbes contributor Paul Tassi says, the “corporatization” of YouTube “leaves not a lot of room for the little guys,” which could be dangerous for the video-sharing site.
For Tassi, a few recent moves stand out. Last week, while the “SaveYouTube” movement was gaining steam, Google invested in Machinima, the No. 1 YouTube partner in terms of views and subscribers. Earlier this month, during its NewFront presentation in New York, Google's YouTube said it was putting $100 million into setting up 50+ new content channels. If YouTube starts promoting these “giant channels,” as Tassi calls them, “it’s going to be a lot harder for [the little guys] to be discovered,” he says.
Indeed, if that comes to pass, then YouTube might find itself with a full-fledged partner mutiny on its hands.