If you're an Apple geek, today's possibly fun speculative news that Apple is ramping up production on the Apple 5S as well as maybe, hopefully, a new Apple TV device, is just as quickly offset by the news that Google-owned Youtube is cutting funding for its Premium Channels service.
After one year and a hundred million in investments later, Youtube is now scaling back its contract renewals to support only A: The most watched and least costly channels. And B: A few "educational" ones such as The Wall Street Journal's channel.
Hm. Sounds a lot like Network TV filled with giant channels being the majority, and your PBS/public access being the token "educational channels," from television days of yore. The difference is this: If I'm NBC and my line up of Thursday night programming isn't getting eyeballs, I cancel one show and add new program in that time slot. When Youtube does it, they're not cancelling Stars Earn Stripes.* They're canceling NBC.
Wanna know what the most watched Youtube Channels are?
Keep in mind too, that as of last month, Warner has nearly 11 million weekly views, but by the time we get to RedBull in the number 5 slot we're talking a little over 3.5 million weekly views. That's a big drop off. But from a brand standpoint, Redbull should get a lot of props for investing in the media and providing content for it.
But let's be honest: if I took away your usual TV stations and shows and said "okay, you can watch The Tween Network, Wrestling Nightly, the WB, or some Public Television station you never heard of," would you be doing cartwheels? Doubt it.
This move by Youtube should be an eye opener. For one thing, it says the "internet freedom to choose," spiel that we've heard for so long is unsustainable from a google giant monolithic money-grubbing corporation standpoint. Yes, Freedom Of Choice means you can see those obscure (if not illegal from a copyright infringement standpoint) videos of Frank Zappa. But that doesn't pay for google's next wonder playground.
It might also be more troubling in a dream-is-over kind of way. When it comes to creating youtube channels, just like TV, there will always be a business model that only caters to the masses' tastes, ad supported or not. Which is not to say Youtube isn't completely happy to " continue to collect ad revenue on videos from channels that haven’t broken even on YouTube’s investment," because, hey gotta earn that money back, right? Might as well keep those stations around a bit longer.
The Mashable article ends by mentioning the fact that while just 30-40% of existing youtube channels will see their contracts renewed, Youtube "announced earlier this year that it was putting an additional $200 million into the project, adding 60 more channels in the process."
Let's just hope if you have a channel it lasts more than a year. Otherwise, you might want to create a Tweens Wrestling To The Sounds Of Warner Brothers Whilst Hyped On RedBull Channel. Give the people what they like.
* Though no stranger to what's goin' on in pop culture, Kidsleepy freely admits to not liking 99% of shows on TV. In order to stay away from a too easy Two And a Half Men joke, he googled "Worst Show On NBC," to find Stars Earn Stripes. Upon reading the show's synopsis, he quickly closed the website and took a shower.