YouTube was all about touting the Original Channels Initiative during its "Brandcast" last year. This year, YouTube has decided to focus on what is already working, as a preview to this year's Digital Content Newsfronts was all about "whatever we're doing right, let's keep doing it."
SourceFed and Karmin were mentioned as things that YouTube wants to keep churning out, as they focused on the general successes of comedy, music, and personal expression. YouTube also lauded their TrueView format that allows viewers to skip ads if they want, with Google claiming 15-45% of those users allowing the ad to play.
YouTube's Brandcast 2013: Here's What Works, We're Sticking to It
The soundbite that is coming from this Newsfront preview comes from VP of sales and service at Google, Jim Lecinski:
This year we’re focusing on the types of content that really resonates with our audience, such as comedy, music, and personal expression, and are helping advertisers reach across all this great content to connect with their most valuable audience.
So what is working is stuff like Philip DeFranco's "SourceFed" and Karmin, whose song covers have led her into the mainstream and a record deal:
Also, live events such as the Presidential debates and Red Bull's Stratos (the Baumgartner jump from space) will become more of a focus this year.
So is this sort of a "down" year for YouTube initiatives? The Original Channels Initiative was a fun thing to talk about, and they spent a lot of money to get a lot of stars to start channels. Some of those, like Geek & Sundry, became big successes. But what I found incredibly interesting and curious is how YouTube basically just let these channels sink or swim. The channels that got the money had to do what any start-up channel on YouTube has to do: come out with great content and promote yourself. These channels didn't really get a leg up in a meaningful way. YouTube basically kept those original channels under wraps unless you were really looking for them.
Also not present at this "preview" was any news on the subscription channels. But considering the coverage of the latest YouTube announcements, with people kind of shrugging and saying, "Eh, is that it?" it wouldn't surprise me if YouTube decided to announce this for real in late April, when the Digital Content Newsfronts actually take place. Or, they just dump it in like always and see if it sinks or swims.