'Seventeen' Finds Success With YouTube Strategy

Last year, Seventeen stopped regular publication of its print magazine to focus on its digital properties and quarterly standalone issues. With executive director Kristin Koch at the helm, the title reports success with its YouTube channel and digital strategy.

Seventeen counts 1.5 million subscribers to its YouTube channel, with a 404% increase in watch time year-over-year and a 205% increase in views year-over-year, driven by popular shows like “Bestie Picks Bae” and celebrity-driven “Lyric Challenge.”

This is in addition to 9 million unique monthly visitors, 1.6 million Instagram followers and 2.7 million TikTok followers.



“We cater to a hyper-digital audience, and video is one of the top ways they consume content on every platform,” Koch tells  Publishers Daily.

“YouTube is where our audience goes for most of their entertainment and information. It’s a daily destination for our Gen Z audience, and they’re spending hours on there.”

“Our audience isn’t just clicking to watch a single video, they’re subscribing for more,” she says.

Seventeen captures returning viewers through episodic shows that “give them a better idea of what to expect from our channel, making them more likely to subscribe and become consistent viewers.” Its YouTube channel evolves its most popular shows, providing viewers more content for their favorite series.

For example, “Bestie Picks Bae,” which finds a person’s best friends picking out a potential love interest from a group of contestants, continues to grow as a brand with spinoffs. Twists like “My Ex Picked My Bae,” reunion episodes and reaction videos from Seventeen’s viewers build deeper loyalty and engagement among its audience.

“It’s important to us at Seventeen, as a brand, to lean into real stories and experiences, and our video series… do just that,” says Koch. “These are real young adults, with their actual friends starring in these videos. They aren’t overly produced or manufactured. “

Next week, the channel will launch “Grandma Picks Bae” and a celebrity edition is on its way. 

“We have developed a community of loyal viewers who are truly engaged in these shows – sharing comments, suggesting ideas for future episodes, pitching themselves to be on the show — and they know we’re listening,” said Koch.

Koch uses a similar data-driven lens when approaching Seventeen’s special print issues “that lets us know which topics our audience wants deep dives into and when they want that type of content. We’re reinventing magazines for a hyper-digital generation with special issues that are interactive and meant to be saved and read and re-read,” she said.

Each issue is pegged to news events or important moments in readers’ lives. The latest print issue hit newsstands in May and another is coming in August.

Seventeen’s video success is resonating with brands, as well, “specifically when it comes to purchasing premium pre-roll inventory at scale, as well as looking at potential integrations into our current programming and future programming,” Koch said.

She cited a specific partnership with Converse. Converse signed on to sponsor Seventeen’s Style Lab video series, which features outfit ideas through fun videos and was integrated into 16 of the outlet’s editorial Style Labs throughout the second half of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019.

Products show up in each video between one and three times.

Koch adds: “We have a large, highly engaged video audience. This opens up lots of doors for interesting advertising opportunities.”


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