By the end of 2006, YouTube was well on its way to becoming something big. As 2007 rolled through, the site was estimated to consume just as much bandwidth as the entire internet did in 2000.
By 2008, an influx of creators were finding one of their videos going viral. Therefore, leading to their whole channel discovering a following. This viral trend can be held to claim with YouTube personality, Shane Dawson.
Dawson posted a comedy skit entailing the death of at-the-time YouTube star, Fred. He gained attention by manipulating the tag of one of the site’s most popular names. Yet, he discovered his audience through his humorous acting abilities and clever writing.
The idea that everyday people could find an audience through YouTube’s platform began to take hold. And, soon enough, a stream of creators started uploading to YouTube. Some finding large success and some (like myself) discovering idiosyncratic communities in a versatile of niches.
As these communities began, likewise, developing a following, YouTube partnered with MGM, Lions Gate Entertainment, and CBS to run their studios content with advertisements appearing just like a commercial on television. This was an attempt to compete with Hulu who works with big names such as Fox and Disney. It proved successful too when deeming the fact that YouTube remains not only a free platform but also a place where any individual can become an entertainer.
By the end of 2008, YouTube was granted that year’s Peabody Award for its honourable mention as a ‘Speaker’s Corner’. This honour is meant to bring light to YouTube’s promotion of democracy.
Some of the earliest innovators decided to start a company out of it as they were well aware of the potential. Makers Studios was formed by a collection of the YouTube pioneers Lisa Donovan, Danny Zappin, Scott Katz, Kassem Gharaibeh, Shay Carl, Ben Donovan and Philip DeFranco. All seven worked together in supporting each other’s content through collaborations. They also signed up other channels to the company and, inevitably, inundated a lot of followers to signed channels. Furthering this new form of entertainment. Makers Studios grew so large it is now contracted to 60,000 channels and owned by Disney who purchased it in 2014 for $500,000.
In the year of 2009, a business-like strategy such as Makers Studios didn’t seem entirely worth the effort. The algorithm YouTube feeds off of requires each personality to upload on, at least, a weekly basis and update viewers as much as possible through social media. It was as laborious as a full-time job. Especially as videos were beginning to demand bigger productions. However, creators were making enough money to live off of and saw no risk in something they knew would only grow. Even if it took another decade and the amount of success was still in question.
When looking at modern day YouTube, we get a clearer sense as to what this growth became.
In 2010, YouTube began streaming major events that you’d normally have to go to television for. Their first live broadcast being a cricket match of the Indian Premier league. On top of this, there was also the option for movie/television show rentals. Inevitably, adding to the large database of internet flix and putting Blockbuster to its end.
With all these innovations, additionally, there came a change to the site in which Google wanted to simplify the layout. This was for the purpose of making YouTube more easily accessible to any kind of user. At-the-time, much of its many communities were upset with this. Yet, on March 31st, 2010, there was no looking back. An entirely new design was launched which incorporated a system that remains easily accessible and causes users to spend more time browsing.
I was a content creator at the time of this change and remember much retaliation amongst other content creators. It was said that Google was making its attempt in allowing YouTube celebrities to flourish and new creators to be shoved into the majority of junk the site can’t avoid. I felt this offence myself as I was trying to build an audience like everyone else. Us new creators were suddenly faced with difficulty as we held little chance for the homepage nor within relevant searches.
The way I see it, this was when people began going about their YouTube channels in a more business-like manner. And I don’t just mean only those who invested in something like Makers Studios. I mean everyone who still had a hint of desire for a chance at this developing market.
YouTube was now servicing over two billion videos a day. It’s been noted that this number was more than double all three major television networks combined. So, even if YouTube’s new layout was causing the undiscovered creators a lack of probability at the game, there was still an immense competition the site was capable of driving.
This competition being 43% of the internet’s video market.
With these numbers growing to be so extreme, those who invested their entertainment value through YouTube were finding new ways of going viral. Usually, by obtaining their audience through other platforms like FaceBook.
Other than that, creators continued to push the site to its full advantage. With the new decade came a new YouTube. Not just in its appearance, but in the way people were producing content. Videos were getting bigger with better quality. Film sets were being used. New special FX tools were being sought and learned. Editing systems were improving. And the overall feel for the site no longer seemed like a hub where people could upload as they felt. It was beginning to look like a database for young artists to give their work a shot at fame.
Annual viral trends began making their mark on the site as well. In 2011, we saw memorable images of Nyan Cat, Rebecca Black’s Friday, and the Honey Badger. Every year since has seen a new series of these viral trends and they can be summed up as completely random and usually - for the benefit of the doubt - something that makes the majority of millennials laugh.
Though there are other sites that bring to light these trends, YouTube has always been a prominent source of such material.
By Paul James, freelance journalist
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