Arguably the most popular form of online media is YouTube. The website receives over 800 millions unique views per month. It has become synonymous with entertainment. While the origins of the site came from (and continue to be) user-generated video content from the average person, many television stations, major record labels and celebrities have also signed up and upload content. YouTube has certainly evolved from its humble beginnings, not least due to the Google take over in 2006.
First video ever uploaded to YouTube
So where does that leave television? To date you could argue that YouTube doesn't have the same production value as television and so is viewed as its amateur counterpart, but even that cannot be counted on. Especially with the launch of the Partners Programme which allows users to make money from uploading content. As a result the demand for quality content increases and often users employ production teams, camera crew, etc. Making them equal partners with their television comrades.
However the main difference that sets YouTube and television apart is the level of interactivity found in YouTube. Watching shows is no longer a passive activity, viewers are invited to leave comments, like videos, share videos and post video responses. The ability to easily share content with friends has also helped its popularity. It is very straight forward to share videos from your favourite YouTube channels with the click of the button. Yes you can tell a friend about a great show you've seen on television, but as we all know, you risk the possibility of forgetting to look it up, or tuning in a day late and now you've missed it. YouTube can be so easily shared via social networking sites, email, mobile apps and it is available on demand, ready when you are. Once you have an account with YouTube you can also "subscribe" to the channel's of users you like and receive notification of new uploads from those specific channels.
Smosh: the most subscribed YouTube Channel
Through another of YouTube programmes, the $100 million original channel iniative, a brother duo The Fine Bros, who were responsible for many YouTube series over the last number of years, created a brand new type of interactive YouTube series, MyMusic. They set about producing a show with the production value of a regular television series which was released every Sunday, but they took it one step further by releasing further videos throughout the week covering entertainment news, questions from viewers/subscribers and many forms of interactive media. The sub-shows were largely made up of the content submitted by viewers/subscribers in the form of questions, art, captions, voicemails, playlists and polls. It took interactive media to the next level being the first show of its kind on YouTube and has now opened doors for others to follow in their footsteps.
Episode 1 (sitcom version) of MyMusic
Another integral evolution of YouTube is the concept of a video going viral. There have been many examples of this over the years with Nyan Cat, Leave Britney Alone and Carly Rae Jepson. Another YouTube phenomenon was RickRolling, which mislead viewers about the nature of a link, only to be lead to Rick Astley's music video for "Never Gonna Give You Up". Most notable of all viral videos and all content ever uploaded on YouTube has to be Psy - Gangnam Style, which was the first YouTube video to ever reach over 1 billion views. Which shows the scale and magnitude we are dealing with. Other sites such as Facebook and Twitter have helped to promote YouTube content over the years and continue to contribute to the popularity of viral videos.
This new age of media content goes beyond anything that television can offer. So how can it truly compete? In short, I don't think that it can. YouTube has revolutionised how we think about entertainment for the better in my opinion, it has opened the doors to some of the most unlikely content and amazingly different shows from all corners of the globe.
What do you think, can television compete? Do you spend more time watching YouTube shows or television shows?