Since the founding of YouTube in 2005, it has grown so big that it is the third visited website on the internet and up to five million videos are viewed on this platform every month. Very interesting statistics can be found here. Most renowned Television stations are failing to match this for a number of reasons and I will briefly explain a few. Now YouTube tagline ‘Broadcast Yourself’ says it all, anyone who wants can broadcast themselves on this platform countless times. YouTube does not discriminate against quality of video or its content(needless to say that some posts have a very good quality), this alone is a passport for home video makers to post any video regardless, even from a mobile phone. As we all know producing a high end video will require a number of factors ranging from reasonable time input to decent cameras usually a bit costly (to mention but a few). Already its clear that probably more than twenty home videos can equate to, say a half hour television programme in terms of cost or time. Individuals, even from their living rooms are able to broadcast themselves anytime of the day posting any subject area, we can safely say that to some extent boundaries do not exist unless if the posts are offensive in another context in which case YouTube admin will deal with that.
What content then do we find on YouTube? there are a lot of ‘How to’ videos, humour/fun videos, protest videos, parody videos, the list is endless. I have to confess that I have sometimes searched for videos on how to do my hair. 🙂 This kind of content seems, is what the population of today wants, we need our hands held for certain tasks, in my case doing my hair, we need to laugh after a long day at work, we need to watch a favourite band live on stage for a show we could not attend, and the list goes on.
So YouTube becomes a source of free information of almost any subject area one can think of the same kind of set up as conventional Television stations(old media) differing on other aspect that i will not mention on this topic. The different channels on Television can be equated to the different channels on YouTube that post different subjects areas. Individuals package their little video and post it on YouTube and we can safely say become producers or journalist because they are telling some kind of story. Since this is directly linked to the traditional way of media coverage in the sense that we have a producer then we have the platform then consumer whereas with YouTube(new media), is more or less using the same concept as old media but the consumer becomes a producer of content already there is a blur in consumer-producer relationship which Henry Jenkins has described as ‘Media Convergence’ here and is another big discourse area that i will not touch.
Why do individuals broadcast themselves on YouTube? The content type will determine how many views one will get on the post. The more a post gets viewed then sponsors get attracted and opportunities crops up for example appearing in advertisements as the face of a product since already there is evidence of a command of followers. This is just one example and some people are actually making a living by getting paid for advertisements featured on their video posts. Some people are just talented and they want a platform to showcase their Art and may just end up celebrities because their content has attracted so many viewers and those who just want attention from a lot of people or just want to have a bit of fun/laugh. According to YouTube, 72 hours of video is uploaded daily, what then do these numbers mean for individuals who uploads videos? Simply put, there is steep competition, there is need for that distinction whereby some videos can generate so many hits due to content or how the video is spread. This spread of content to the extent of up to a million of hits for a specific period is what Henry Jenkins explains in detail here, the theory of ‘Spreadable Media’. In some cases YouTube users linkup with other fellows who are doing well on YouTube, produce content and this may just increase their audience and hits.
There is also another side to this ‘glorious’ operation, the fact that thoughts, feelings and even identities are put out there for the whole world, it means YouTube users are at a vulnerable position to stokers, or disturbing comments on this platform. This is the reason why there is a number of people who are sceptical about signing up to internet sites because of fear of such happenings. But after all said, I was impressed with how, what someone may call a silly video can change another person’s life, Cory William who has 516 006 subscibers and a total of 228 899 880 YouTube video views says in ‘Butterflies YouTube Documentary Movie’ here, his ‘Make Poop’ video helped an Australian girl stop herself from committing suicide. This is quite positive in my opinion how a YouTube video can influence someone’s actions. Where YouTube is going and what may happen in a few years or months time is something we can predict.