Digital programmer Young Hollywood Network has more than doubled its monthly YouTube viewership so far this year a result of partnering with the site on YouTube’s new channels initiative. Young Hollywood’s jump from about one million YouTube views each month to more than 2.5 million views per month is an early indicator of the potential of the YouTube programming project to drive audiences and advertiser interest.
In addition to the audience growth, Young Hollywood has snared an ongoing advertising partnership through YouTube with Unilever and many of its brands including Tresemme and St. Ives. That deal calls for the network to build additional content with those marketers, such as “Award Season Secrets” and “Fresh Finds,” which has also helped to grow views, said RJ Williams, CEO of Young Hollywood.
The five-year-old network has been creating Hollywood-centric videos that run on its site as well as syndication partners like AOL, Yahoo and Hulu as well as YouTube. In that time, the network has generated 1 billion views across its distribution sites.
The YouTube channels initiative is a big shift for the company, though. Previously the programming release strategy had been more off the hip, with interviews and episodes releasing when they were shot. Now, in addition to the existing videos and shows it creates for the other outlets, Young Hollywood also makes daily videos for its YouTube Channel. New shows release every weekday at 10 a.m. Pacific and Young Hollywood has also launched themed shows around fashion and trends, in addition to regular coverage of events like SXSW, the Oscars and the Grammys, Williams said.
“We never looked at YouTube as a primary revenue source, but that’s changed now. Now we are crafting for YouTube audience,” he said.
Engagement on YouTube has grown, with completion rates now at 30% compared to 10% to 15% before. Social media also plays a big role in driving viewership. Young Hollywood shares its episodes on Facebook with its more than 325,000 fans, Twitter with more than 121,000 followers and via Google+ with more than 340,000 fans.
If the growth rate continues, the network may spin off some of its most popular verticals into their own channels. “We are using these as mini pilots to see what people are responding to,” Williams said. “Right now, the trends report is doing well. If it keeps doing well we could spin that off and create a mini channel.”