Teen stampedes are a thing of the past at Vidcon

25 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

At VidCon YouTube CEO Shows Love For Its Stars, While They Gaze At Other Possibilities.

Most people have never heard of Markiplier, the bombastic namesake of one of YouTube’s most popular video game channels. Google’s YouTube, looking to squeeze new coin from the millions of free videos on the service, aims to launch a subscription-based service later in 2015 that will strip out all ads.The company rolled out 360-degree video earlier this year, with the ability to interact with videos by dragging the mouse to move the image – the same way you would in a first person perspective video game.When 29-year-old YouTube star Meghan Tonjes launched a podcast with crowd-funding site Patreon a year ago, it was one of dozens of things the singer-songwriter was doing to grind out a living online.

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — YouTube says it’s making a further push into virtual reality, promising to add 3-D support for videos that play back in its 360-degree format.YouTube Chief Executive Susan Wojcicki unveiled a series of product announcements, including a mobile redesign for the platform, during her keynote speech at VidCon on Thursday. This is reported to improve viewing times on adverts – thereby increasing their value – because users can interact with them by controlling what they see. Videos projected over two large screens, first showing the power of the connections YouTubers make with their audiences and then showing YouTube stars’ journey from upstarts to mega stars.

The longtime executive, who previously headed advertising and commerce at Google, received several rounds of applause as she addressed a packed Anaheim Convention Center conference hall at VidCon for the second year in a row. When viewed on mobile, users will be able to change their perspective in the video just by moving their phone, just like the mouse interaction that works on a desktop computer.

Along with posting performance videos on YouTube, touring, selling songs on iTunes and ”vlogging” (video blogging), Tonjes sits down twice a week with her roommate in Los Angeles to talk about ”Adventures in Roommating.” Nearly 100 online patrons donate a total of close to $700 per podcast, just to listen and maybe get a shout-out. ”If YouTube disappeared tomorrow, I want to know that I can go play shows, do podcasts and live without being dependent on one site or one app,” she says. In between, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki brought bags full of upbeat news, promises of new digital toys for YouTubers to play with, a new kind of trophy called the “Diamond View Button” for those 35 channels or so that have crossed the 10 million subscriber mark. This spring, YouTube informed content partners that they must get on board — otherwise, their channels will be made private and won’t be eligible for ad-revenue sharing.

But the most exciting announcement is that full virtual reality videos will soon be supported on the app, using a just a phone and an easy to assemble cardboard mount. With YouTube taking about a 45 percent cut of ad revenue from videos posted on the site, YouTubers and companies that manage them are hunting for new ways to make money from the audiences they’ve built on the platform.

YouTube also said it would provide special camera rigs that support the format at its studios around the world, including at two locations opening next year in Toronto, Canada, and Mumbai, India. And Wojcicki was as clear as she could possibly be about what these Partners mean to the company. “YouTube succeeds only if you, our creators, succeed,” she said. “You’re the reason that we’re all here today. YouTube is currently looking to launch the subscription-video service in late Q3 or early Q4 but may end up pushing back the launch to early 2016, according to sources.

These cheap little boxes, called Google Cardboard, have been around since last year, and turn your phone into a a mini virtual reality device like Oculus Rift. ‘You’ve got an amazing camera in your phone or tablet, and now you can trim your footage, tint the image with filters, add music, and upload – all inside the app. They are the leading edge of a legion of gamers who videotape themselves while playing games and narrate the action as they go, cracking jokes, screaming and swearing to the delight of their many tween, teen and twentysomething fans, who would rather watch another person play video games online than play the games themselves. “Watching people play video games seems like the craziest concept to some folks. Robert Kyncl, head of content and business operations at YouTube, welcomes the challenges to its online dominance, even if other platforms are enticing creators with better cuts of revenue. And to folks who watch them, it seems as normal as anyone watching any other type of show,” said Matt McLernon, spokesman for the predominant forum for posting and watching such videos: YouTube.

Instead, she focused on enhancements to YouTube’s mobile apps, which include support for full-screen vertical video, and touted production tools at YouTube Spaces for shooting 360-degree and 3D video. Facebook announced this month that in the fall it would start sharing ad revenue with a select few creators like the NBA, Fox Sports and Funny or Die. Gruszka is among the 21,000 people attending VidCon, an annual three-day convention that kicked off Thursday for online video fans, content creators and industry executives. The website’s most popular Let’s Play personality, PewDiePie, boasts 38 million subscribers and earned $7 million last year, but there are “hundreds of millions of gamers” on YouTube playing more than 25,000 different video games, McLernon said.

In a separate interview with the Wall Street Journal, she insisted the video-subscription service was making progress despite some holdouts. “There are some partners outstanding,” Wojcicki acknowledged, “and we’re still in the process of working through that with them.” She added that YouTube has secured agreements with content partners representing more than 90% of watch time. Video-game streaming service Twitch already shares subscription revenue from followers with top gamers, and a site called YouNow allows online fans to give tips to talent with coins bought with real money in live stream forums. All of you have invested in building your channels, building your businesses, listening viewer feedback, pored over your analytics and, as a result, made great content and built strong communities.” Many make their money off the revenue from advertising that runs before their videos, as well as from product placements inside their videos and from merchandise sales, such as T-shirts and posters Every month, viewers literally watch billions of hours of gaming on YouTube, and that astounding figure is growing. Thursday, the convention was screaming teenagers and young adults with cell phones pulled out, taking videos of performers on the concert stage, YouTube personalities or themselves.

Everything from ”unboxing” videos of new gadgets and how-to videos that show off teeth-whitening products are providing YouTubers a solid revenue stream. That trend was evident on opening day of VidCon, Thursday, where a panel called “What Makes A Good Gaming Channel” was attended by hundreds of wannabe YouTubers, including 15-year-old Winston Jones of Murrieta, who had already set up a YouTube channel and planned to post his first video Sunday. “I came to VidCon pretty much just to learn stuff about gaming,” said Jones, who has been playing video games since age 5 and who will launch his channel with a video of himself playing Minecraft – the game that is credited with launching the Let’s Play genre. FameBit, a Santa Monica startup, launched a marketplace last year where creators bid on the right to make brand-sponsored videos, and deals close for, on average, $500 per video, says Agnes Kozera, the company’s co-founder and chief operating officer. YouTube has a poor track record of making consumers part with their money: a pay-channel initiative failed to take off two years ago, and its streaming movie-rental service hasn’t registered much action apart from Sony’s “The Interview.” No content in the pay service will be available exclusively.

Also launching this week is an app called Social Bluebook, which benchmarks how much creators should ask for such digital promos, including on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. To not consider all of the possible galaxies would be foolish. “We’re always going to be looking a new platforms,” says Tyler McFadden, co-CEO of Collab, a Los Angeles-based studio for content creators looking to do everything from becoming the next big thing on Vine to producing high-quality content for subscription-based services to. “If you’re able to get a brand involved or you have a platform that wants exclusive series, and recognize that content is premium, they’re willing to put some money up to support it,” McFadden says, noting that YouTube’s own efforts to build premium content is part of that equation. But while some speculated that YouTube’s SVOD would be akin to Netflix, with a bucket of premium video behind a paywall, the service actually is more like Spotify Premium: same lineup of stuff, just without the ads. That model has worked for Spotify and others, but it’s not clear it will work as effectively for video (especially given that many YouTube ads can be skipped after a few seconds).

Two movies starring YouTube sensations are debuting around VidCon, including ”SMOSH: The Movie,” featuring comedy duo Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla, and ”The Chosen,” a horror flick featuring vlogger Kian Lawley. Different audiences await, for instance, on Facebook, says Don Wilcox, VP digital marketing and services at PBS. “It just means a bigger audience,” Wilcox says. “It’s not necessarily cannibalistic, because it’s not all the same people on the same platforms.

In addition to Let’s Play, there are channels from so-called creators who use the characters from video games to tell narrative stories that are completely separate from the games in which the characters originated, and channels for battles between different teams of online gamers that are videotaped, edited and streamed online. His YouTube channel boasts 531,000 subscribers, and videos have garnered 96 million views. “There are a lot of kids out there who don’t have a family or come from a single-parent family, and they want to see wholesome family entertainment,” Butler said. They won’t be the first feature films starring YouTubers and they won’t be the last, says Barry Blumberg, chief content officer for SMOSH backer Defy Media. He declined to disclose how much he makes, only that “it’s enough to survive and make this my full-time job.” Butler has a 300-acre ranch in Idaho, which proceeds from YouTube has helped him buy, he said. Among the hundreds of featured creators, or YouTube celebrities, at VidCon were dozens of web stars who specialize in video game content, including FLitz from Smosh Games (with more than 6 million subscribers) and Matthew Patrick of The Game Theorists (with more than 4 million subscribers), both of whom participated in a panel discussion Thursday before a lively audience donning video game T-shirts and skull caps. “It’s a phenomenal job and it’s incredible to form a connection with an audience and fans who are just as excited about over-thinking your favorite passion as you are,” Patrick told the crowd. “That said, it’s a hard job.

YouTube will take a 45% cut of subscription revenue (as it does on advertising), with the rest divvied up to partners based on aggregate subscriber viewing time. YouTube personality Kayla Lashae, 22, who has made a living for three years with videos about trying out bags and testing things like electric toothbrushes, says it’s a good idea to branch out with the co-hosting gig. It’s not just smile and say something as people think.” “I like acting,” Russett says, telling me she just filmed a small part in the upcoming movie “Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates” starring Adam DeVine, Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza. Part of the rationale is to take formats that have worked in Germany, like the head-to-head video game challenge show, ”Last Man Standing,” and transport them to different markets with local talent, says CDS CEO Reza Izad. The merger will also help build up advertising sales forces in countries where consumers are watching videos that don’t have ads sold against them. ”You want to grow (ad rates)?

YouTube originally approached networks to see if they’d be interested in providing full-length episodes of TV shows — the thinking being that an ad-free environment would be a big draw. That’s because YouTube is offering the same rev-share terms as on the ad-supported side, and networks can better monetize their shows on their own outlets or established SVOD platforms like Netflix or Hulu (whereas YouTube’s subscription service is unproven). There are plenty of genres that work in other markets, like sports, dance, and fashion, says Peter Csathy, CEO of venture capital firm Manatt Digital Media Ventures. ”Those things are not language dependent and they’re naturals for international reach,” he says. In fact, the YouTube video-subscription service may have the effect of prompting TV networks and media companies to share less content — which today is nearly entirely promotional, in the form of short clips — because they may have contracts with other distributors specifying exclusivity in the SVOD space. But consider this: YouTube Music Key, the music-streaming service Google launched late last year in beta, is regularly priced at $9.99 per month (with a $7.99 intro price).

Given that YouTube’s goal is for every video it hosts to be on the SVOD service, including music vids, it stands to reason that the monthly fee for ad-free YouTube will be either the same as Music Key — or higher. (There’s been speculation YouTube will fold Music Key into the SVOD service, but Google currently expects to keep them separate products.) Is ad-free YouTube worth more than Netflix? It’s questionable whether the other features promised for the service — offline video viewing and playback on mobile devices while other apps are in use — will be enough for users to open their wallets. The Internet colossus touted YouTube’s momentum in reporting Q2 earnings last week, claiming the top 100 advertisers on average spent 60% more year-over-year, and that YouTube mobile viewing alone attracts more U.S. viewers 18-49 than any single cable network.

That means, for the most part, that users have to search for videos or discover them via algorithm-based suggestions (not human curation). “YouTube is a hard place to find the thing I don’t know I want,” said an exec at another large content partner. “In order to be a subscription service, you have to understand content.” That said, YouTube could be accelerating efforts to get the right content in front of the right audience: This week it announced Susanne Daniels, MTV’s former president of programming, as head of original content development. But Wojcicki and other execs clearly believe the initiative is worth a shot: After all, even if only a tiny percentage of YouTube’s 1 billion-plus monthly users pay up, that could be a significant amount of new revenue. “I love the idea of multiple revenue streams,” said a senior MCN executive. “The challenge is, I’m not sure it’s an offering consumers are going to pay for… We’re not sure it will work.”

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