Is YouTube Viewership Declining?

A recent analysis points to an increased decline in viewership amongst various YouTube channels, but what could be causing the change?

YouTube Logo

YouTube has become the ideal platform for rising talents: from musicians, to comedians, filmmakers, make-up artists, and more. The video-sharing website created in 2005 which started as a home for uploading, sharing, viewing, and rating videos from users has now become a full-time job for many thanks to its option to monetise content and the option to include ads in videos.

The website is also responsible for a class of internet celebrity commonly called “YouTubers” or “YouTube personalities” – content creators who have rocketed to internet stardom thanks to their videos, whether they are a comedy, a musical, or a cellphone-recorded video that went viral. All good things must end (or so they say), and YouTube’s boom might be on its way to extinction.

According to Kotaku, with data from stat tracker SocialBlade, YouTube’s viewership is going through a considerable decline, not only affecting well-established YouTubers but also those who are starting to share their content on the website. A graphic shared by SocialBlade shows that, since the first half of the year, views are 5-7 percent lower; between July and September, the decrease was 10 percent.

SocialBlade Community Manager, Danny Fratella, shared an explanation of how these numbers came to be:

“I started by pulling daily views/sub growth data from January 1, 2016 – November 30, 2016 for every channel with more than 10 million subscribers. From there, I weeded out channels that weren’t actually YouTube personalities; accounts managed by record labels (like VEVO channels) and television studios (like The Ellen Show), primarily. That left us with 49 of the biggest channels on YouTube.”

Youtube personality PewDiePie
Youtube gaming personality PewDiePie

YouTube recently accused third party apps of misrepresenting data, firing directly at SocialBlade, to which they fired back by assuring they don’t “make up data” – they get it from the YouTube API, adding “our data is only as good as what we’re able to get from you.” While YouTube’s view-counting algorithm is, like most algorithms from the biggest social media platforms, unknown, Fratella shares that watch time plays an important role, but there are “likely many other metrics taken into account.”

It’s unclear why viewership has decreased, but Fratella shares some possible explanations: view audits and altered video-promoting algorithms. What YouTube does with view audits is remove botted or invalid playbacks from the view count. Fratella suggests that these “purges” might be more noticeable thanks to tools like SocialBlade, adding that the app doesn’t see view counts purged as often as subscriber counts, and while YouTubers around the globe have complained that viewers are being randomly unsubscribed, both YouTube and SocialBlade haven’t noticed anything out of the ordinary in subscription data.

Burnie Burns Lazer Team

As for YouTube’s video-promoting algorithm, Kotaku explains the videos the site decides should get more attention are a reflection on their philosophy on what videos should go viral. In short: a poor-quality, cellphone-recorded video of a breaking news event might be more deserving of viral attention than the latest video of a channel which constantly uploads content.

On the other hand, an important factor in viewership decline could be the competition from other social media platforms – such as Facebook, Twitter, and now Instagram – that have been adding the “live video” option, making things easier for many to keep up with breaking news or with what their favorite internet-people are up to.

Whether promotion algorithms and audits are the reason behind lower view counts is unclear. What is true, however, is that YouTube’s number of content creators has rocketed in the last few years, making content saturation a possible reason behind the decrease in views, as well as the competition from other platforms. Or, maybe, it’s just time to move new content to other sites.

Screen Rant will keep you up to date on all the news regarding YouTube as it is made available.

Source: Kotaku

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