Video Essentials

YouTube’s Long Tail: More Ad-Supported Channels, Fewer Viewers


There’s been an explosion in the number of ad supported Youtube channels, but is anyone watching them?

The online video software and analytics company OpenSlate (formerly known as Outrigger Media) dropped a bomb on the industry when it released a report called “The Long Tail of YouTube.” The report put a spotlight on the changing YouTube ad ecosystem.

OpenSlateYouTubeOpenSlate shows that there are now four times the number of ad-supported channels on YouTube as there were only a year ago. There were 146,755 in 2014, which grew to 837,738 as of late September 2015. Many of these new channels repeat the formula that works for top YouTube stars, offering gaming, music, or how-to content.

While that sounds like a wealth of new channels for advertisers, view metrics tell a different story: Top creators get huge hits, but the graph quickly flattens out. Only PewDiePie and 143 other channels have over 5 million subscribers, OpenSlate finds. Old media names don’t mean much on YouTube, where Time has around 110,000 subscribers.

“Over 500,000 channels have less than 1,000 subscribers,” OpenSlate’s report says.

In 2014, ad-supported YouTube channels had an average of 39,000 subscribers. In 2015, they average 14,000 subs.

That fragmentation is a challenge for brand advertisers, OpenSlate says. It’s not diminishing brand involvement, though: The report finds that brand spending by the top 100 YouTube advertisers is up 60 percent year-over-year.

For more, look to “The Long Tail of YouTube” on OpenSlate’s site. The report is online, and there’s also a downloadable PDF (no registration required).




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