YouTube. The world’s longest running video sharing and streaming service which is visited by millions of people daily. The site provides a wide spectrum of varying content such as with people such as the #1 most subscribed person on YouTube, PewDiePie with over 35.5 million subscribers and over 8 billion overall video views, TotalBiscuit with just over 2 million subscribers and over 600 million video views and The Yogscast, with a combined total of over 20 million subscribers and 5 billion video views across their network of 27 YouTube channels. Vlogging is also another category of content which is wide-spread in popularity across YouTube; Youtubers such as Hannah Hart, with over 1.8 million subscribers and over 148 million total video views, Emma Blackery with just under a million subscribers and over 68 million total video views and Good Mythical Morning with over 6 million subscribers and just under 1 billion total video views. So how did this one video streaming site become so popular that single-person owned channels can become more popular than the population of some first-world countries and can be viewed, in total, more than the entire population of this planet? Let’s find out.
YouTube was first founded back in 2005 by 3 former PayPal employees; Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim who came up with the idea for a video sharing site after the Super Bowl 2004 incident involving Janet Jackson. Karim could not easily find clips of the incident online with ease and so, the idea of a free video-sharing website came to be. YouTube was first started as a technology start-up, with an $11.5 million investments from Sequoia Capital and the site’s domain was opened on February 14th 2005. After officially launching the site in November of 2005, the site exploded in popularity and less than 7 months after its official opening, the company announced that 65 thousand videos were being uploaded daily and the site was retrieving over 100 million hits daily as well.
In October of 2006, Google announced that they would be buying YouTube for 1.65 billion and in November of the same year, the deal was finalized. YouTube continued to run the same way as it always did under Google’s command with a few undesirable website design changes here and there, until however Google+ integration was inputted involuntarily and a huge backlash from the YouTube community arose. Comments regarding a man named “Bob” who owned a tank (I wish I was making this up) appeared everywhere for month’s after Google+ integration and how Bob, his tank and his army were against Google+ and people were encouraged to copy and paste the comment to say that they were with Bob. I swear to you, that comment appeared in literally every single YouTube video you could come across for the next month or so because the YouTube community (and I was apart of this) was so against Google+. So why is Google+ so hated across the YouTube community? Well for one thing, when you commented on YouTube, it posted under your Google+ name, not your YouTube name and since Google+ names can be changed instantly and check if the name has already been taken due to it being a social network, it made it extremely easy for people to change their account names to famous youtubers and impersonate them in the comments section. Secondly, the Google+ change was required, meaning that if you wanted to do anything on YouTube whether it be doing something quite big such as having your own channel to something so simple as posting a comment, you had to have a Google+ account to do any of that and everything else on YouTube. The problem with that, if it isn’t already a bit obvious, is that that means that anything you did on YouTube would be recorded under your Google+ account which 90% of the time was under your real name…Thankfully, most of the annoying changes that came with the Google+ update were removed by Google a few months after the change so you don’t need to worry about having an account under your real name anymore.
Around 2008-2010, many YouTube channels were starting to gain quite a sizeable fanbase: video game Let’s Player Chuggaaconroy, World of Warcraft guide and video game critic Totalhalibut (now known as Totalbiscuit) and video game-based commentators and entertainers BlueXephos (now known as the Yogscast) are just a few gaming-based YouTubers who started to grow quite exponentially around this time, though this was only the start of YouTube’s sudden entrance into everyday media consumption. On August 15th 2013, Felix ‘PewDiePie’ Kjellberg exploded onto the YouTube scene and became the most popular YouTuber of all time but was later beaten by a Youtube-owned channel in November later that year, a position he contended with this channel for until December 9th of that year, when he took that position and has never had it taken from him since. From PewDiePie’s arrival on YouTube, the video platform started to shoot up once again in popularity, to the point where it is at today.
So why do YouTubers like PewdiePie and TotalBiscuit take the time to make these videos and get them out there to their fans, you may ask? Well, believe it or not just like how TV stations make their money through advertisements played in-between their pieces of content, so do YouTubers. That’s right, people like PewDiePie (who is currently a millionaire purely from his YouTube content) get paid to sit in their house, play video games for 10-20 minutes all the whilst commentating on their gameplay, edit that recording and then put in up online. Whilst I know personally that it is not anywhere near as easy as it sounds verbally, it sure as hell makes your jealous if you’ve got a very labour-heavy or just a generally very dislikeable job.
So if you haven’t already gotten a YouTube account, go get one! Whether you’re a gamer, sports enthusiast or just someone who just wants to explore this new media, I guarantee there’s something for you somewhere in the wide and deep depths of YouTube.