Before the dawn of the internet most people acquired their news and entertainment via cable TV, newspapers, and magazines. However, the traditional ways of consuming media changed changed on April 23rd, 2005 with the birth of YouTube. From your average Joe to popular celebrities, anyone could now make a video and have their voices heard.
YouTube was originally created to make an easier way to upload videos and post them to blogs, which at the time were quickly becoming mainstream. The first known “Viral Video” is considered to be Lazy Sunday, a digital short produced by Saturday Night Live. It was uploaded to YouTube, iTunes, and a few other websites on Dec, 17th, 2005 (2.1 million downloads). In the early days of YouTube there were no limits or regulations on the content that could be uploaded making this a prime time for early YouTube content creation.
After the Lazy Sunday video was uploaded many companies became fearful that their own content would be taken and uploaded for free on YouTube. Luckily, most people uploaded original content as opposed to copyrighted content negating most of this fear. Instead YouTube evolved as a platform that cooperated with television to avoid any copyright related issues. The company started taking down videos if the owners of the original content complained at all. To this day, it is still nearly impossible to find a clip from The Simpson on YouTube. In 2006, the same year that TIME named “You” the Person Of The Year, YouTube entered into a marketing deal with NBC. In 2007, YouTube partnered with CNN to ask the presidential candidates questions that were posted on YouTube, and it wasn’t until 2012 that the site partnered with ABC to live stream the debates directly to YouTube.
YouTube has also been a great platform for the late night shows such as Bill Maher, Jimmy Fallon, and Jimmy Kimmel. It gives these shows a platform to post videos and highlights from their cable networks and allows people who are without cable to view their content. However, just as television was starting to adapt to YouTube the viewers started treating it more like a public access station. Around 2007 just as the cable networks started leveraging the site a new crop of stars started to emerge. With the innovation of cameras being built into laptops it was becoming easier and easier for people to start filming themselves and upload their own content. In 2010 a evolution took place in the form of PewDiePie. Whether you like him or hate him he started the trend of filming yourself playing videogames for others to watch and enjoy. Bethany Mota gained popularity after making “haul videos” where she would show people what she just bought at the mall. Using YouTube’s ad-revenue Sharing Partner Program these internet gurus and online stars stood to earn revenue in ways that old-fashioned public-access creators simply could not.
From this YouTube started developing its own culture and its own genres from makeup tutorials and song parodies, to GoPro skateboard theatrics, unboxing videos, and the list could go on. By 2010 – 2011 television no longer had to worry about YouTube stealing its shows; YouTube was creating shows of its own calling them “Channels”. In 2011 Google spent almost $200 million to launch their own original channels with partners like Madonna, Pharrell Williams, VICE, and The Wall Street Journal.
YouTube is not only paving the way for the future of television but it also preserves its past. It serves as an online time capsule; a place to capture viral memories that made us laugh and cry for many years and for many more years to come. Want to watch the viral video “Shoes” from 2007? Well you can with YouTube. Want to find a song written in the 1950’s? Why not try YouTube! You can observe recorded college classes for free now with YouTube, and you can learn how to cook from top chefs. There are so many possibilities to tap into these days with the evolution of YouTube. Rather than being a website that simply allowed people to view pirated shows from television YouTube serves to both complement and amplify it. Just take a look at John Oliver. Without YouTube and it’s deals with HBO most people probably wouldn’t know of his witty and sarcastic funny jokes towards current day events.
Lately, we have seen a lot of regulations start to affect YouTube. This could be bad for YouTube as in the past the site was designed to be a platform for people to speak openly and be creative. In any case we can guarantee that the next steps for YouTube will be interesting and will bring us many forms of entertainment for years to come. Let’s watch!
Brett Brooks is a Partner at RedFox Creative. For more information, or to leave a comment send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.