Analysis: YouTube alienates amateur users by courting pros

Thu Oct 4, 2012 7:12pm EDT
 
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By Gerry Shih

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - After struggling for years, in late 2010, Driving Sports TV, a scrappy, two-person video production outfit led by Ryan Douthit, finally began supporting itself with advertising income from YouTube.

It didn't matter that the channel's production set was simply a green screen in Douthit's cramped garage in a leafy Seattle suburb; Driving Sports TV's revenues were roaring like the rally car engines it featured.

Achieving self-sufficiency on YouTube was Douthit's dream. Then it became a nightmare.

Over the past year, Driving Sports TV's popularity and revenues have plummeted as much as 90 percent, Douthit said, as viewers abandoned him for slicker, more professional and better-marketed fare that's suddenly streaming onto YouTube.

Douthit is among thousands of amateur video producers who helped Google-owned YouTube become the Internet's most popular video-sharing site.

But YouTube's thriving amateur core now feels squeezed out by the site's sweeping transformation from user-generated clips to more professionally produced content, posing a potential dilemma for Google's long-term ambitions in online video.

"I drank their Kool-Aid," Douthit said. "I believed their whole pitch, that anybody with talent and drive could make a living out of YouTube."

A year ago this month, YouTube embarked on an initiative to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire original, professional content in an effort to compete for ad dollars against traditional television networks, digital streaming services such as Netflix and rival Internet companies like AOL and Yahoo.   Continued...

 
Crew members produce an episode of Tekzilla at Revision3 in San Francisco, California October 3, 2012. REUTERS/Noah Berger