This has been the year of the YouTube original channel, and as we approach 2013 some of those original channels will be receiving additional funding. And many will not. 30-40% of the original lineup will get the second round and will be notified in the upcoming weeks. What YouTube did over the year was to figure out what worked and what didn't. Obviously, with 100 channels covering a variety of genres, some of these were going to work out, some weren't. There are a variety of reasons why some were a success and others didn't quite make it, but as you'll see, it's nothing you haven't heard before.
YouTube Original Channel Initiative Enters 2nd Year
Michael Learmonth at Ad Age wrote this explanation for the success stories, and lack thereof (emphasis mine):
What didn't work? A celebrity name attached wasn't enough. Nor was simply creating content--however good it might be--and posting it to a channel. While channels failed for a lot of reasons, the ones that are succeeding have one common characteristic: they make building the audience as big a priority as creating content.
As we've detailed for awhile, you definitely need great content to keep a channel going. But you also need to put just as much work into finding an audience, however that might be. The original channels that are failing are doing so for the same reason any channel might fail. You can have all the money in the world to make great content, but if you don't put in the work to get noticed, no one will care.
The top 25 channels average more than a million views a week and the top 33 have over 100,000 subscribers. You can bet those will be getting funding, and if the 30-40% figure is accurate, that might be nearly all of them.
How much funding in this go-round? $200 million is up for grabs between the original channels and 60 new channels. A list of a few of the success stories is here at Thompson on Hollywood, which lists Warner Music's Warner Sound channel, travel/lifestyle channel Reserve, director Justin Lin's YOMYOMF (YouInsultMeYouInsultMyFamily) channel, Chris Hardwick's The Nerdist, Felicia Day's Geek & Sundry, and Jon Avnet and Rodrigo Garcia's WIGS.
Here's a look at YOMYOMF's "Bananapocalypse," which gives you a humorous "inside look" behind-the-scenes at the studio (with some bad language):
The way YouTube has been running this initiative is that YouTube gets to sell the original channel content exclusively, and then producers have to recoup the initial investment before selling their own ads. And of course, YouTube has been kind of evasive about telling these producers whether they've achieved that goal.
It will be interesting to see how many new channels follow the successful model, or repeat the mistakes of the channels getting axed next year.
image credit: Eric Flescheaur