Editor’s Note: The world of social media changes quickly and this is our third update to our original 2019 ‘The Decline of YouTube – An Uncertain Future For This Popular Video Platform‘ article. In our second update, ‘Looking to the Future – 2020 and Beyond for YouTube‘, we made some predictions about YouTube’s future. Our original post, created in December 2019, concluded with what would need to happen next for YouTube to overcome certain obstacles. In the second update, we explored potential improvements and where we saw the video platform heading. In our third and latest instalment, ‘YouTube Decline – What Has Changed Since 2020?‘, at the very bottom of this article, we look at whether those predictions came true and what’s next for the video platform.
—- Original article from 2019 (with minor revisions to improve accuracy) —-
For many years, I like many others, had grown to love YouTube as a platform following many different content creators that made the platform a diverse collection of videos ranging from the weird and wacky to the interesting and informative. Here I will explore the decline of YouTube, the uncertain future of YouTube and what needs to happen for YouTube to overcome these challenges.
A Bit of Background About YouTube
Table of Contents
In this post we will explore the following topics:
- 1 A Bit of Background About YouTube
- 2 Why Did I Decide to Write About This?
- 3 So, When Did The Decline of YouTube Start & Where Did Things Go Wrong?
- 4 Lack of Support for Content Creators
- 5 Manually Curated ‘Trending’ Videos
- 6 So How Does the Future of YouTube Look? Too Big to Fail?
- 7 What Needs to Happen for YouTube to Overcome These Challenges?
- 8 Looking to the Future – 2020 and Beyond for YouTube
- 9 YouTube’s Future or Decline – What Has Changed Since 2020?
YouTube (which is owned by Google) set out to create a video platform allowing individual users, organisations and businesses to upload bits and pieces of video to the web. Over time, it has evolved and mutated into what it is today which is quite the complicated mix of the positive and negative ranging from low budget videos uploaded by the average Joe to a huge catalogue of movies from studios such as Marvel.
Big studios such as Marvel host a huge catalogue of movies on YouTube
First-ever YouTube video
Technologically speaking, they’re progressed significantly but unfortunately have regressed when it comes to policy and the way the site is running which we will get into more a bit later in the post.
VR compatible 360-degree style videos
Why Did I Decide to Write About This?
I wanted to write about this topic as I feel a lot of people have ignored the decline of YouTube or have been out of the loop in regards to the rules and practices that are resulting in a nose-dive for the platform as most content creators are considering either jumping platforms or quitting all together due to the way YouTube and its policies have been impeding growth for many channels and content creators.
Firstly, just a bit of information to those that don’t use YouTube too heavily – in 2019, YouTube isn’t just a place where marketers shove their content or a place where kids upload their karaoke videos. Currently, in 2019, it has become a vast platform that in many ways surpasses the offerings of cable television with channels of content offering full episodes and seasons of content that are of the same production quality as what you would expect to see on traditional TV and cable stations. Some channels have been churning out content regularly for over a decade and to say that thousands of people have secured their livelihoods via YouTube illustrates how significant and detrimental even small changes can be when implemented without warning or consideration to the users that have made YouTube the platform it is today.
So, When Did The Decline of YouTube Start & Where Did Things Go Wrong?
Forced Google+ Comments Integration
In 2013 Google announced that YouTube would be receiving forced Google+ integration into each video’s comment section. This meant that in order to comment on videos, users would need to create a Google+ account in addition to their already existing YouTube account just to be able to write comments. This was met with anger and frustration from the YouTube community – both viewers and creators alike were furious for a multitude of reasons. Unintuitive setup wizards, illogical UI choices and dialogue boxes all while forcing people to somewhat remove their anonymity online by having to use their real names in most cases.
Creators were forced to set up elements of their channel all over again – now with the added Google+ features that they couldn’t opt-out of. To be honest, the whole thing was a total mess that confused veterans of the site in addition to making it more complicated for new users that just wanted to interact with their favourite content creator and their community.
The nightmare continued as channel owners would start to receive their video comment notifications in their Google+ inbox, making Google+ profiles near impossible to use for those with large channels and personal pages.
It’s easy to see what Google and YouTube were trying to do here – online trolls are a problem on nearly every internet website particularly those with high traffic and we’ve all seen how toxic comment sections can get on YouTube, particularly when it comes to opinion and politics. Also, Facebook and Twitter had slowly started gaining increased popularity in 2013 and Google wanted to have a piece of that pie via the introduction of Google Plus’s Circles and YouTube integration.
The problem is the way they went about this via a forced integration of one of its other properties and it is so poorly executed and thought out that it was destined to fail from the start.
In July 2015, YouTube announced in a blog post stating that they would begin to start to clean up the mess created by Google+ (although not in those words) with the announcement of the removal of the Google+ requirement for YouTube functionality. The whole thing was a total mess with many YouTubers completely disabling their comment section in protest and frustration at YouTube’s lack of consideration for a lengthy period of time while all of this was happening.
The entire Google+ project was probably doomed to fail and in 2018 we produced this article announcing that it was shutting down.
The Handling of Content ID and Copyright Claims
So, over the years, there have been numerous questionable choices being made by YouTube. To continue, let’s talk about their initial detrimental policy with the way they started handling copyright takedowns.
Initially, when a specific section of a user’s video featured a small sample of copyright-protected music, the whole video was removed from the site – not just the section that features a sample of the song. This could become problematic as, for example, if a Vlog picked up a few second clips of a pop song, it could either be ‘claimed’ by the copyright holder manually or be picked up by their content ID system and removed.
Users at the time would be met with the following message –
This video contains an audio track that has not been authorised by all copyright holders. The audio has been disabled
This didn’t make sense as the video could be, for example, 120 minutes of content made by the content creator. Just for featuring a 10-second clip of music, the whole video would be muted by YouTube despite streaming websites such as Twitch having more logical solutions muting the offending section of the clip.
Eventually, YouTube changed its solution to allow the videos to stay live unmuted, but if the video gets claimed by the copyright holder, the advertising revenue generated via video monetisation gets sent to the copyright owners of the claimed content. This still wasn’t logical as this again could be a two-hour video with only 10 seconds of content that violates a copyright. The logical argument would come up again and again, Why should their 10 seconds of work be more important than my two hours of work when it comes to who receives the revenue generated by that video.
A more in-depth explanation for this policy at the time can be found on Google’s support page here.
Inevitably this method for claiming content started to be abused by copyright holders more and more and YouTube’s content creators were becoming more and more frustrated as the advertising revenue made by each video is the main source of income for users (particularly in the days before Patreon).
After years of this, YouTube has finally recognised the problem and released the following statement:
One concerning trend we’ve seen is aggressive manual claiming of very short music clips used in monetized videos. These claims can feel particularly unfair, as they transfer all revenue from the creator to the claimant, regardless of the amount of music claimed.
Clearly, the subject of copyright and the implications of violating the copyright is a complicated subject and I’m aware that YouTube was trying to address the problem in the best way that they knew how to. The problem is the way that they went about it – leaving many dedicated creators on YouTube crying out for help for years and many were left ignored due to YouTube’s notoriously bad support unless you were a well-established channel with an account manager of sorts available for contact at YouTube. It put uncertainty out there for those that ran a variety of different channels such as video gaming review channels where video games frequently feature music.
As recently as April 2019, YouTuber AngryJoeShow’ who has over 3 million subscribers at this time of writing released a video describing how he was a victim of copyright holders abusing the rules and policy put in place by YouTube. (Video contains strong language). He explains how a 4-second clip resulted in his video being claimed which he is currently (at the time of the video) was appealing. This was in no way an isolated incident and is indicative of the struggles many other content creators were also facing without the added benefit of having such a large audience and platform presence.
The YouTube ‘Adpocalypse’
Towards the end of 2016 into early 2017, YouTube decided to focus on promoting family-friendly content following a backlash from critics over some of the content that ads were appearing alongside. This naturally generated a lot of coverage and caused a huge number of advertisers to flee from the network or at very least flee from a huge amount of content creators. Advertisers didn’t want to be associated with the types of videos that YouTube was putting their advertisements alongside and instead of allowing YouTube to create an immediate fix, many simply saw YouTube as an unviable means of advertising – at least for the immediate future while all of this was happening.
Consequently, many YouTube content creators started to lose money due to their content not being considered adequate for advertisers – what YouTube describes as ‘advertiser friendly’. It seemed like YouTube was panicked and went from minimal curation of advertisements and requirements to being very restrictive only allowing what they define as ‘’family-friendly’’ content to be monetised from the summer of 2017.
Despite this being the proposed solution, YouTube still couldn’t get it right. Many questionable channels still maintained monetisation while other channels were punished despite being quite tame in comparison. The aforementioned YouTube channel h3h3 made a video about this in frustration at how YouTube was handling the whole situation.
In addition, since the Adpocalypse, they were making just 15% of their videos compared to before while maintaining the same type of content and quality of content effectively punishing them and thousands of channels like it because of the way YouTube had previously displayed their advertisements.
While still on the topic of adverting and video monetisation, things continued to get worse for YouTube in the latter part of 2017. This triggered what many refer to as ‘The Second Adpocalypse’ with, yet again, advertisers fleeing from YouTube and not wanting to be associated with the platform while it was receiving bad publicity due to instances of questionable content hosted on the platform.
This time, it was largely due to niche channels that provide content for children being considered to violate YouTube’s child endangerment policy by showing potentially harmful and ‘gross-out’ content. It’s understandable that advertisers wanted to distance themselves albeit temporarily until this was investigated and rectified by YouTube.
Around the same time period, YouTuber Logan Paul was receiving negative widespread media attention. The negative attention for allegedly uploading a video which appeared to show a dead body in Aokigahara forest known to be a frequent site for suicides. This understandably caused outrage and lots of media coverage with even the BBC covering it. Obviously, these channels aren’t just small niche sections of the internet, as of this writing, Logan Paul’s Vlog channel has just under 20 million subscribers so it’s easy to see how much influence and reach these channels have.
Yet again, YouTube decided to punish regular YouTubers for this by creating a new policy in early 2018 that restricted the partner program to channels that had 1000 subscribers and upwards and 4000 watch hours per year. As you’d expect, smaller up-and-coming YouTubers were not happy as they had their means of making money removed before even getting momentum with their content and channel. For many, this discouraged many smaller start-out channels many of them decided to either give up entirely or switch platforms.
Yep – this continued to be a problem for not only one of the biggest video-sharing platforms in the world but one of the biggest websites in the world owned by one of the biggest companies in the world. Due to yet another Adpocalypse, even more, problems were being created for YouTubers when it comes to monetisation.
In February 2019, one YouTube user had identified a strange set of results apparently due to YouTube’s algorithm at the time. This, yet again, put advertisements alongside very questionable content involving children. At this time, advertisers were only just returning to YouTube after two years away from the platform. These brands only ran advertisements for a month before completely removing them yet again following the most recent controversy mentioned above. For the innocent content creators of YouTube wanting to make the content they love, it was becoming increasingly difficult to not only make ends meet but to make content and be eligible for monetisation.
YouTube yet again set out to solve the problem – this time they decided to completely disable comments for millions of videos on the site and delete hundreds of channels. Unfortunately, yet again, YouTube treated many with the same brush and consequently well-meaning positive channels such as Special Books by Special Kids which gives a voice and platform to disabled children were affected by the new rules imposed by YouTube completely removing comment functionality from all of their videos (which remain disabled to this day). They made an emotional video reacting to the policy YouTube forced on them here which is indicative of how many other channels feel about the enforcement of these new rules.
In May 2019 there were complaints by reports sent on YouTube regarding comments made on the platform which they believed fell under ‘hate speech’. The last few years have been quite a volatile time when it comes to politics with many polarising views. In recent times what constitutes ‘hate speech’ has somewhat changed and this article isn’t the place to get into the topic, but the reality is, it’s quite a tense time when it comes to political commentary or content on the platform and in general.
In order to try and tackle this problem, YouTube has punished what are considered ‘right-wing’ and other political channels with restricted monetisation and even channel deletion in some cases causing some to lash out at YouTube calling the move ‘anti-free-speech’. This has sparked a lot of criticism with many saying YouTube is using its political bias to determine which channels appear in their ‘trending’ section (which we will cover shortly) and which channels are allowed to receive monetisation.
There were a few other factors contributing to advertisers leaving the platform in large numbers, but the above were some of the most significant factors that resulted in changes and restrictions on the platform.
Lack of Support for Content Creators
As you’ve probably concluded yourself from reading this article so far, YouTube content creators are not a top priority it seems – even though they make YouTube function as a platform via creating unique and interesting content in most cases. Many have been neglected by YouTube’s support service and even larger popular YouTube channels that had once had an account manager or contact at YouTube have recently been left in the dark and unable to contact anyone regarding video takedowns or monetisation queries.
By dedicating yourself to creating content for YouTube, you are relying on them to treat you fairly and in return, you continue to create engaging content that drives people to the network. It seems increasingly risky to put your livelihood in the hands of a company that doesn’t seem to value the commitment or work that has gone into making their network grow.
There are yet more examples of YouTube neglecting its talent and failing to reward the work and dedication shown by successful channels.
YouTube Rewind acts as somewhat of a yearly celebration of viral videos and ‘best of the year’ content. They are a yearly video series of sorts featuring the year’s top content alongside the top creators that made viral and popular videos for that year.
However, on 6th December 2018, YouTube uploaded their yearly entry into the Rewind series with a video that managed to gain over 10 million dislikes in just over a week. It went on to become the most downvoted video of all time on the platform and at this time of writing, it currently sits at over 16 million dislikes. The video has Will Smith as a host of sorts, again deciding to go down a more ‘traditional’ entertainment route which contradicts the whole point of Rewind being about the creators.
In the 2018 Rewind video, the portrayal of creators and the platform as a whole was thought of by many as inconsistent, even artificial to those that truly know and love the platform.
Rewind boils down to a growing disparity between the platform’s true creator culture and the polished version that YouTube wants to present.
I completely agree with this – there’s a huge disparity between the true community culture of YouTube and the ideals that the company itself wants to present and push. I think due to their previous issues with copyright and advertisers fleeing the network, they want to portray a ‘safer’ more traditional view of what is ‘advertiser friendly’ rather than identifying and embracing the unique nature of having an organic community-driven video platform.
YouTube failed to feature arguably the most popular creators on the platform including PewDiePie and Logan Paul – both channels had a very successful year in 2018 with numerous viral videos yet weren’t featured at all in YouTube’s yearly Rewind. This shows that not only is YouTube willing to neglect and ignore their creators when they’re encountering problems with their account but also that they’re willing to ignore their significance and positive impact on the platform by refusing to celebrate them in their yearly highlight reel.
YouTube has proven again and again that it puts advertisers before its content creators and every step of the way we see signs of that. One theory as to why YouTubers such as PewDiePie were missing from Rewind is that YouTube wanted to distance itself from anything seen as controversial when celebrating their network. In 2018 PewDiePie was caught up in controversy over a racist slur and other YouTubers missing from Rewind such as Logan Paul have been subject to criticism for featuring a dead body in his video as mentioned earlier. I understand the need to condemn the use of any racist language or inappropriate behaviour, but to deny their contribution to the platform over the year is wrong in my opinion.
Manually Curated ‘Trending’ Videos
YouTube has a ‘trending’ section on its website that, as the name suggests, is supposed to display the most popular and trending videos at that current moment. There are two reasons why trending is controversial at present – firstly, these videos are chosen by YouTube rather than allowing the most popular statistically to be listed in the section (which would make the most sense) and secondly, many of the chosen videos that appear in this section are missing actual content creators from YouTube and seem to favour big brands that predominantly operate and generate content outside of its network. This is yet again detrimental to the real channels that deserve exposure as YouTube fails to acknowledge these as popular videos as often as they should yet frequently promote videos from external ‘mainstream’ media sources and has done so for the last few years.
The data is clear, YouTube clearly seems to favour traditional media and has almost appeared to settle with the safer forms of content rather than embrace what made it unique and different from it. At one point in time, YouTube in many ways surpassed the offerings of traditional media by offering many varied channels displaying a spectrum of takes and opinions with independent journalism, reviews, political and social commentary and allowed a natural organic growth of these channels based on viewership and general demand. It was a refreshing ‘alternative’ to the mainstream’s heavily curated content.
It’s easy to see YouTube’s point of view in many ways, we live in a very politically and socially tense time with the rise of ‘cancel culture’ in addition to the many variations of the ‘Apocalypse’ in the past. it’s at least understandable why YouTube would want to play things somewhat safe in regards to their content but it sacrifices allowing content to naturally rise and be truly representative of what people want to consume as content.
So How Does the Future of YouTube Look? Too Big to Fail?
Despite all of YouTube’s wrongdoings and missteps, it’s forgiven by many due to there being no real alternative at present, at least with comparable features and infrastructure. So how does YouTube’s future look?
Are There any Real Competitors to YouTube?
We have seen video hosting platforms such as Daily Motion and more recently BitChute start to gain slow popularity, but YouTube’s future is still fairly safe as currently, it is still home to the best content creators and channels out there. Until recently, many creators have decided to just put up with YouTube’s lack of communication and constant roadblocks as it’s still a place where they have a community and audience of regular viewers. Even though it’s becoming increasingly difficult to run a channel, having the ability to monetise with an abundance of advertisers is too attractive to walk away from.
However, things are starting to change. Video monetisation, as we have shown earlier, is becoming stricter and less profitable. Communication with your audience is also becoming difficult in some cases with certain channels having comments disabled due to policy change, disabled monetisation for certain topics, not being able to qualify for ‘trending’ due to subject matter – the list of limitations and new restrictions continues to grow on an almost daily basis.
I think we are approaching the point at which the straw breaks the camel’s back and with platforms such as Patreon, as mentioned earlier, creators are able to more easily diversify their income and become less reliant on YouTube income alone – particularly for those that are already established and have large audiences.
Things get complicated when it comes to finding a reliable network to call your new home, though. Despite there being no real conclusive evidence, many people have theorised that YouTube still operates at a loss and is very expensive to run. This would lead me to believe that the only way a reliable platform will emerge is if another tech giant such as Microsoft creates an alternative with strong financial backing. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility as recently Microsoft has released Mixer which competes with Amazon-owned Twitch. Both are streaming platforms that cater to creators that primarily stream video games or gaming-related content. In fact, some creators such as h3h3 had moved most of their efforts over to Twitch and streamed their podcast on that network for a short time.
With these streaming sites, the monetisation options are different to that of YouTube in a few ways. Channels still have ads but also offer paid subscription tiers with exclusive benefits for the viewer. You can still view the content for free if you choose to, but subscribing typically allows for the audience to interact with chat with exclusive emotes and disables ads from playing on the channel. The creator retains 75% of the money from each subscription made to his/her channel with the rest going to Twitch. In addition to this, Twitch supports ‘bits’ and ‘donations’ which allows viewers to make a cash donation, typically along with a message that appears on the video stream that the ‘streamer’ and audience will see. This allows income via Twitch and streaming to be a bit less stressful than YouTube and provides the ability for each channel’s audience to directly support their favourite streamers via donations, bits or paid subscriptions. YouTube have recently tried offering similar monetisation options to certain channels, but they haven’t really seen commonplace utilisation yet as some of the features appear to need a bit of work.
Ultimately, YouTube is an example of a strong idea succeeding despite questionable decisions year after year by its management and behind the scenes decision-makers. YouTube’s creators are the foundation upon which everything else on the network is built. Most of the popular channels have television-like content that retains a higher audience view count in many cases than cable television or traditional live broadcasts. It’s their greatest strength and shouldn’t be traded for more traditional media just so that they are in a safer spot when it comes to pushing content that is safer in the eyes of advertisers. It will be interesting to see how things evolve over the coming years, will YouTube finally learn from its mistakes or will it continue to run the platform into the dirt until a viable alternative presents itself?
What Needs to Happen for YouTube to Overcome These Challenges?
It’s time for YouTube to not only pay attention to creators’ concerns and questions by providing an adequate level of support but to treat them with the respect that they deserve at the very least given that they are responsible for YouTube being where it is today and almost certainly in the future. In order to turn things around for the better, as a bare minimum YouTube should look at the following:
- Embrace your own content creators – don’t prioritise external content.
- Allow ‘Trending’ to, for the most part, represent what is truly being watched.
- Stop taking a lazy approach to fixing problems, treating all channels with the same brush solves one issue in the short term but creates another.
- Continue working on a fairer content ID claim system with rights holders.
- Provide better support, particularly for larger channels.
- If you’re going to create a video series celebrating the network, at least include the people that make your network possible – it’s what we all want to see.
It will be interesting to revisit this post after some time to see how things have changed and how the future of YouTube is looking, I plan on updating and adding to this page when anything significant changes with the platform.
—- Second instalment from 2020 —-
Editor’s Note: Below, we’ve given our original post from December 2019 some fresh new ideas and thoughts on YouTube’s future and where we can see the video platform heading.
Looking to the Future – 2020 and Beyond for YouTube
It’s definitely a big ‘if’ but if YouTube can start to implement a common-sense policy and fix the many issues mentioned above, there are many avenues the video platform could explore to improve its reach and feature set. YouTube should start being a leader in its industry rather than looking to see what others are doing right and trying to emulate it. They need vision and to realise they are in a unique position where they can make a big difference when it comes to pulling their platform back from the point of no return by implementing innovative features not seen in many of the other big video platforms or streaming services.
Improved Options for Gaming and eSports
Although not for everyone, eSports and gaming content is on the rise and has been for some time. With games such as Dota 2, League of Legends and CS:GO, watching as a spectator can be just as engaging as actually taking part in playing the game. Any preconceived ideas you may have about video games should be put aside while understanding that modern gaming isn’t just comparable to Pong or Mario – most of the popular eSports titles such as Dota 2 have been compared to a mix between Chess and American football with deep strategy and complexity. Currently, for gaming, we’ve seen surges in popularity as mentioned previously with platforms such as Twitch and Mixer pulling in audiences looking to watch games casually, and also watch competitive games or tournaments.
YouTube’s current venture into the streaming arena has been somewhat un-impactful with relatively low numbers of users streaming gaming content and watching live. General video content or VODs related to gaming are still popular on the platform, but it seems their foray into streaming is intended to compete with the likes of Twitch and now Mixer has been somewhat received with a lukewarm reception.
Currently on Twitch, when multi-stream channels are live (or as Twitch calls them ‘squad streams’) 4 video feeds are placed together in each corner of the screen, 3 of them muted so you have just one audio feed. Not particularly well-integrated or interactive and definitely something YouTube could work on to stand out. We’ve had interactive ‘red button’ type interfaces and options on cable and satellite since the early 2000s and although the content quality is up to scratch when it comes to online video broadcasts, these live interactive features and options seem to still be lacking heading into 2020. This is evident particularly when it comes to eSports where interactive options would be very useful and make the spectator side of things more engaging whether that’s multiple camera options, statistics options or both.
Obviously, this would have to be utilised by the channel but giving content creators and streamers more options to easily go about interactive broadcasting could be a way to stand out and have a USP for YouTube as currently, their gaming offering falls short of Mixer and Twitch.
Improved Categorisation – Giving Users Control Over Subscriptions
As someone that has used YouTube since the beginning, one feature I’ve wanted since the start is more control over the videos that appear in your feed. There is almost no organisation to the subscriptions feed as is nearly impossible to notice who has uploaded what and when. All videos appear grouped in together with no way to separate them by category or video type.
I have been wanting to have a better way to categorise content on a per-channel basis – even if it is something like Twitter lists that you can put certain channels into. For example, I have DIY channels, gaming channels and food channels. There should be a way for me to sort those video types into lists so that when I want to see what has been uploaded when it comes to cooking channels, I can look at my cooking category list and see everything that has been recently uploaded falling under that category. Currently, you can add certain category settings to your own channel, but it would be great to be able to do that as a viewer not just a channel owner and have that control over the content you view.
If there are limited options with what YouTube can do within a web interface, an optional software download would be a great option to allow more control over the content you view. This would also be an opportunity to improve the upload process and allow for basic video editing not just for content creators but for businesses looking to market their products or service.
Donations and Funding Integration
One big difference with other platforms like Twitch is the seamless integration of donations, ‘bits’ and subscription data appearing on top of the content you are watching. As we’ve found out from the numerous Adpocalypse events, it can be difficult for YouTubers to make money on the platform or even enough to cover their expenses. YouTube could possibly look at ways to integrate donation options for those channels (maybe working with Patreon or StreamLabs) to make it easier for viewers to support their favourite channel and be able to see your donation appear on an overlay for example that lists all of the supporters when you click to expand the overlay element.
This could also work well with charity and fundraisers having better integration of the data when it comes to a lot of people donating for a cause online. It’s satisfying to know you’re making a difference but it’s also satisfying to see your contribution alongside everyone else’s and feel a part of the process. This is something YouTube can improve on and better equip channels for these newer types of content we’re starting to see more regularly on the platform.
As you can see above, YouTube has already started doing this to some extent, but it would be great to see a wider utilisation and expansion of this feature set to better equip channels that are looking to raise money for themselves or charity.
Watch this space for further updates on this article and the future of YouTube.
—- Third instalment from 2023 —-
Editor’s Note: Our third instalment for 2022 provides offers our reasons for why YouTube’s decline is speeding up rather than slowing down.
YouTube’s Future or Decline – What Has Changed Since 2020?
In 2022, it seems like YouTube’s decline is speeding up rather than slowing down. Let’s take a look at what has happened since our last update and discuss the changes YouTube has made to its platform.
In November 2021, YouTube announced that they would be making the dislike counts on all videos private across the platform.
There are two main theories as to why this happened now rather than at any other time in YouTube’s history.
- Firstly, some say that this change came at a time when a large percentage of YouTube’s viewing population were seemingly losing trust in ‘legacy’ media, and this was reflected in the ‘like’ to ‘dislike’ ratio of such content.
- Another way to justify the change is how YouTube views it — large groups of users were ‘brigading’ and targeting certain groups of users to silence them.
We regularly noticed huge numbers of dislikes on videos from the White House, and also dislikes on videos covering the pandemic.
Regardless of the reasoning, it’s hard to justify silencing part of your audience. Particularly when video rating and commenting have been such an integral part of YouTube from the very start.
This change, combined with many channels having to close down their comment section (as we covered earlier), seems like somewhat of a slippery slope.
More Content Creators Jumping Ship
Since 2020, more of YouTube’s top content creators have decided to stop uploading content frequently or stop altogether.
Channels such as JCS – Criminal Psychology have released statements telling their users that their videos have been flagged due to violating YouTube’s guidelines:
The JCS channel is very popular and has nearly 5 million subscribers. As of this writing, the channel hasn’t added any new content in over 7 months. The production quality of their content was in-line with what you would expect from cable TV channels which is why it makes it such a huge loss for the platform.
Another channel that has had similar problems is The Great War. The Great War covers the First World War from 1914 to 1923 and can be a great way to learn about our history. The channel had over 270 videos demonetised making it very difficult to stay on the platform.
The context was previously an important factor when it came to YouTube monetization and eligibility. For example, despite violence being a no-no on the platform, if you taught self-defence, you would still be eligible for monetization due to the context. In recent years though, YouTube has seemingly been cracking down on channels regardless of context.
Conclusion: YouTube’s Future from 2022
It’s disappointing to see that YouTube doesn’t appear to be learning from its previous mistakes and continues to fall short in many different areas.
It’s easy to imagine the future of YouTube containing low-quality content, as that will be the only content that falls within the strict parameters of their guidelines.
As YouTube manually curates what is ‘trending’ on its platform and makes it increasingly difficult for new or creative channels to become monetized, the platform will continue to see less varied content being made available, which is sad news for YouTube’s future.
Think of YouTube as an artist that is creating a sculpture by chipping away the parts that they don’t like. YouTube continues to ‘chip away’ from its platform by demonetising channels that either don’t hold similar values as the company, or make content they deem ‘inappropriate’.
We can only hope that this YouTube decline slows down and that the company reverts back to a more ‘common-sense’ approach regarding platform policy. Failing that, we are still waiting on a well-funded alternative that can provide advertising revenue to creators with free speech as a platform priority.
The future of YouTube still remains uncertain and the next few years will be very important for the platform.
Editor’s Note: Sadly, our latest update provides little to show that the future of YouTube is a positive one. What do you think? Please share your comments and thoughts below.