Video Essentials

YouTube’s Original Channels Offer Lessons in Success and Failure

If you’re trying to build up your brand’s channel on YouTube, it’s handy that there are so many success stories to look at.

One of the bigger events in the online video industry this year was the rollout of new channels on YouTube, thanks to the site’s $100 million original channel initiative. A panel convened at the recent Streaming Media East conference in New York City to look a the fledgling channels and see what’s working (and what isn’t).


One truth that quickly emerged was that experience trumped celebrity online. While several celebrities had created channels, it was the experienced YouTube personalities who were getting the most hits.

“You see this a lot with some of the YouTube original channels where lots of established entertainment and notable Hollywood celebrities and names who are coming over are coming over to the platform, are doing phenomenally poorly on it,” explained Joshua Cohen, co-founder of Tubefilter. “It’s the YouTubers, it’s the people who have been on it for the past several years are the people who know how to engage in the community, who are doing incredibly well on these YouTube original channels. Like, Tony Hawk is the spokesperson for another channel, and his channel is not, despite Tony Hawk and despite all the credibility that that name may lend, his channel isn’t doing quite as poorly as Amy Poehler’s, but it’s not doing well.”

One of the initiative’s strongest successes is SourceFed, an irreverent news show that offers several short videos each day. The channel was created by Philip DeFranco, who already enjoyed a large YouTube following.

“You have a native YouTuber like Phil DeFranco who has two-point-whatever million views, who’s been on YouTube, was one of the first 10 actual YouTube partners to split in the advertising revenue. He knows how to do this,” said Cohen. “He’s been making a living out of this for literally the past 5 years. So when he gets some funding to create a new channel, it does way better than anyone else does. I think this is probably the top ones out of all the originals.”


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