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Is YouTube dying? Well, it’s a bit of a loaded question, and if we look at the numbers, it’s clear that the current king of video content continues to reign supreme. YouTube still boasts over two billion monthly logged-in users and has a daily watch rate of over one billion hours (seriously, each day). Its digital realm canvasses over 100 countries around the world and can be accessed in 80 different languages.

But is such a massive reach (and a massive library of content) actually a good thing? There’s a reason many digital creators complain about their videos getting buried in a confusing, and at times nonsensical, algorithm. If you’re wondering what’s keeping your videos off the trending page (or how to explain the YouTube demonetization of your content for no reason), then this deep dive into the current state of online video content will help you answer the question of whether YouTube is dying—and what you can do about it.

The History of YouTube

Rewind to the year 2005 when three PayPal employees had an idea for an online dating service (sound familiar, Facebook?). The original title of “Tune In, Hook Up” didn’t make it off the ground, but what they did create was an exceptional platform for user-uploaded video content. But it wasn’t until a particularly memorable Super Bowl halftime performance (we’ll let you guess which one) that the three YouTube creators realized what was missing.

As they looked for videos of the halftime show online, they realized they couldn’t find anything. Out of this, the idea of a one-stop shop for all things video was born and YouTube had its start. By democratizing video uploading, YouTube made it possible for non-computer experts to publish, upload, and view streaming videos through a typical web browser with modern internet speed.

By May of 2005, YouTube was trafficking about 30,000 users per day (you can check out the very first YouTube video here), which is roughly how many users they get every half a second today. It didn’t take long for that growth to take off. By 2006, YouTube had more than 25 million videos uploaded and was generating around 20,000 uploads a day—numbers that led to an eventual $1.65 billion buyout by Google.

Putting Money in the Pockets of Creators

In the early days, making money from YouTube was limited to celebrities like Paris Hilton. But it didn’t take long for YouTube to create metrics that allowed any creator to profit off of ads shown before their videos. In 2007, YouTube let channels with 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 public watch hours within the past year run ads on their videos and earn money doing so through the YouTube Partner Program. The ability to monetize content helped many creators to turn their hobbies into full-time careers.

Fast-forward to today and 75% of children have marked “YouTuber” as their most desired career choice. And sure, YouTubers are regularly recognized for making six and seven-figure salaries, but are those just outliers? Or is it really that easy to make money on YouTube?

Looking at success stories like MrBeast and PewDiePie making millions over their time on YouTube, and even Issae Rae turning a YouTube series into an HBO show, you’d think that YouTube is a paradise waiting for brilliant creators to make boatloads of cash. But, there are some caveats to that.

The All-Consuming Algorithm

By 2008, YouTube faced serious competition from Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. That’s when the streaming wars began. In an effort to increase the amount of time viewers would spend on their site, YouTube changed the algorithm to favor videos with longer watch times instead of those with higher view counts. No more of the glory days with David After Dentist and Charlie Bit My Finger. Instead of short videos, creators now had to work to make content longer than 10 minutes in order to appease the algorithm monster.

Today, the algorithm is more robust and more developed, but at the same time, it’s grown harder and harder to please. Many creators complain that changes to the algorithm have caused them to see drastic drops in viewership. As far as YouTube is concerned, these drops in viewership have nothing to do with the algorithm.

You can choose whichever side of that argument you want. But, the truth is that YouTube created a platform where anyone can upload anything at any time. Now, they’ve had to balance that by putting the right ads on the right videos, all while keeping sensitive and inappropriate content off the site and keeping creators of great original content happy. Combine that with a slew of creators who are monetarily rewarded for making lengthy, clickable content (for better or for worse), and you can see that the modern state of YouTube isn’t what it once was, or what it could be.

Many of YouTube’s creators resonate with the sentiments of Carrie Crista, a YouTube creator who shared this: “YouTube seems to have forgotten who made the platform what it is.” She continued by saying that as they work to compete with Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, YouTube is “pushing content creators away instead of inviting them to a social platform that encourages them to be creative in a way that other platforms can’t.”

YouTube’s algorithm has chosen to favor the creators who have the time and money to churn out long-form content. Gone are the days when small, independent creators could have their videos appear in YouTube’s suggested feed with a chance for others to discover them. This begs the question: is YouTube dying? And, if YouTube’s demonetization policies continue to hurt creators, what will happen next?

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The State of YouTube Today

YouTube continues to hold strong as the second most popular website on the internet. But, with the rise of TikTok, YouTube has finally been challenged as a leader in the creator economy. Now, they’ve decided to help creators (and themselves) by developing YouTube Shorts, their short-form video posting platform built to compete with the likes of TikTok and Meta Reels.

Luckily YouTube Shorts has been proven to be very popular. In 2022, the platform finally hit 50 billion daily views! But has it been worth it for some creators?

Well, that answer is a little convoluted. In 2023 YouTube finally expanded its partner program to include earlier access to fan funding and shopping features for creators with at least 500 subscribers, three valid public uploads in the last 90 days, and either 3,000 public watch hours in the past year or three million valid public Shorts views in the last 90 days. This is obviously a great thing for creators!

However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. All three of the major short-form video platforms (YouTube Shorts, TikTok, and Meta Reels) are struggling to properly compensate creators for their content. YouTube is trying to make headway by adding ads to YouTube Shorts that give some money back to creators. But this is where the problem lies. YouTube is taking 55% of the revenue generated from Shorts, only leaving creators with 45%—minus whatever percentage they have to give to music distributors (if there is music used in the short).

In the end, YouTube is at least trying. While the support they give to creators is still subject to revenue-sharing caveats, they are still a platform that can help creators get discovered. But, if YouTube is dying, where else should creators turn?

So, whether YouTube is dying or not, what should creators do?

If you’re a creator looking for a new place to host your videos, there are several platforms poised to dethrone YouTube. You can hope that YouTube’s policies change and that their algorithm shifts back to what it once was, or you can discover additional OTT platforms like Endavo.

With our custom OTT tech platform, you get to monetize exactly how you want, stream through multiple platforms, and syndicate across channels (yes, including YouTube). You can automate your distribution across your own apps, OTT platforms, and social networks from a single management system.

Endavo is designed with a creator-first mindset. This is a platform that holds the streaming tools you need to build, monetize, and grow your platform. You make the content, publish it, gather the viewers (we can help), and then you make money however you want—it’s that simple.

Gone are the days when you upload a video to YouTube and cross your fingers in hopes that the algorithm gods will give you favor. Now, you can control the way content is created, presented, and received. You get the streaming tools needed to upload content and the revenue model designed to help you succeed.

Post great content and make money doing it with Endavo’s OTT strategies built for creators. To get started, sign up for our 30-day risk free trial, and start playing around on the platform yourself!