A brief intro:
This time a decade ago, no one had even heard of youtube, nor did the bandwidth really exist for the project. The emergence of Youtube was unforeseen by, well lets be real, everyone. Microsoft was left standing, as was Google. The access of users to cheap video editing equipment, and further simultaneously given access to the vast array of various uploaded media clips led to an explosion of creativity.
However as time progressed, expectedly those who did well acquired a disproportionate amount of the traffic. Now, I don’t have the figures, but a comparative handful of users provide the significant lions share of the traffic. This has had two detrimental effects on youtube.
1) The forum has lost a significant portion of its vibrancy, in that it used to be that you could come back to youtube in a week or twos time and everything would be different. This is not true anymore. You come back in months time and it’s pretty much the exact same people doing exactly the same thing. It’s no longer really youtube, but the ‘same old-same old’tube.
2) The barriers to entry are now essentially prohibitively high. As a few get a large amount of the traffic, the barriers to entry are huge compared to what they were when youtube was relatively a flat and fair forum. Indeed almost the only way to now establish yourself on youtube is with the help of someone who is already established, or to have an existing audience for whom you start making videos, or to simply have a truck full of cash to throw at the problem.
So is there a solution to this? Is there a way that youtube can regain it’s vibrancy? Well that’s where many minds are better than one and I ask for your take on this.
The following is my suggestion: One way to do this which is arguably dead before it starts is by biasing the YT search algorithms against established players. Now YT will not want to do that on several levels. Firstly ‘established players’ are the ‘cash cows’, they are the ‘known commodities’ that people come to youtube for. Secondly of course, those partner would be pretty unhappy having put all that work into establishing a channel merely for YT to come along and decide ‘bad luck fellas, but YT needs more variety’. It would also send a lousy message about the relationship between media producers and youtube. Finally of course, who is likely to fill this gap? Lamentably imitation is easier than innovation and for every youtube ‘celebrity’ there are probably 10 wannabe clones. Even if youtube were to tweak its search engine, would it really help?
Maybe a more viable alternative is to create a second ‘pool’ of users. A ‘youtube hatchery’ so to speak that allows small channels to grow free of the competition of the bigger players (a different front page). Limit the hatchery to users with less than 10k subscribers or so, and have a separate front page for them. The environment would allow people to establish themselves on a smaller forum before competing in the full YT forum where currently they get almost no attention.
Other than that, it looks to me like youtube has matured and hardened into its adult form, never to see significant changes again, or if it does, it will be more akin to glacial speeds!