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YouTube is underwhelming – The New York Times

YouTube is underwhelming – The New York Times
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YouTube is underwhelming – The New York Times

YouTube is underwhelming – The New York Times

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This question may sound ridiculous, but it isn’t: Is YouTube a success?

Please hold back your boos. It’s hard to imagine the Internet without YouTube. Buying the video site in its early days was one of the smartest things Google ever did. But after nearly 15 years of being a part of Google, the most successful slot machine in internet history, it’s still not clear that YouTube has realized its financial potential both for itself and for itself. everyone involved in its vast digital economy.

Two data points: The money that YouTube prevents from selling ads – its main source of revenue – was around $ 11.2 billion last year, not much more than the ad revenue of ViacomCBS, an advertising company. Mid-sized American television that has CBS television. network. Twitter, which is not that keen on money, generates on average double the ad sales of each of its users compared to YouTube.

No one should feel bad about YouTube. Yeah, that’s good. But it says a lot about the vitality of the internet that YouTube is arguably the fastest growing online economy and it’s still hard to call it a wholehearted financial winner. And if YouTube doesn’t win, neither will its masses of video creators.

The great promise of the internet was to give anyone a chance to make a living doing what they love, but YouTube shows how elusive that dream has turned out to be. If YouTube doesn’t quite meet high hopes, that means neither is the internet.

Let me dig a little deeper into the weirdness of YouTube in one important respect: it pays some of the people and businesses that fill its virtual shelves with products.

On Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Twitter, we make their products for free – with a few exceptions – in the form of our silly memes, engagement photos, and beauty tutorials that we post. For videographers who meet YouTube standards, the site typically gives those people and organizations about 55% of the money from the ads that appear in or around their videos.

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Due to YouTube’s revenue sharing and other ways for content creators to make money from videos, it has quite possibly generated more income for people online than any website. (It’s impossible to prove. People make money in a less direct way by building an following on sites like Instagram and TikTok, but YouTube is still a go-to place for people to earn income online.)

Perhaps YouTube, especially after revelations several years ago that corporate ads appeared in videos promoting anti-Semitism and other horrific views, has been less aggressive than companies like Facebook. and Twitter to spread commercial messages everywhere. This is a good thing, although these are missed opportunities for YouTube and videographers to make more money.

The end result is that YouTube is making a lot of money for itself and for the videographers, and its revenue is growing very quickly, but the numbers are still quite high compared to its size and influence.

The fact that I even mentioned YouTube in the same paragraph as middleman TV company ViacomCBS and Twitter… YouTube’s reduction in ad revenue is also less than half of Netflix’s annual revenue. (These numbers don’t take into account YouTube’s revenue from other sources, including subscriptions, which the company doesn’t regularly disclose.)

If YouTube has so far not reached its financial potential, what does that say about the rest of the digital world? If you read the work of people like my colleague Taylor Lorenz, who chronicles the internet workforce, it’s easy to see that there can be a disconnect between the promises of the internet economy and the reality.

Some people make a good living from their creations on YouTube or other apps, but many others are constantly scrambling for peanuts and running out.

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It’s hard to stand out in the sea of ​​people making dance videos on TikTok, streaming video games live on Twitch, or hosting YouTube talk shows, and it has always been so with the creative professions. Except that digital optimists wanted to believe that the Internet would make it easier and more democratic for anyone to find their fans and their calling.

That’s why YouTube finances are important to the rest of us. If YouTube doesn’t quite work, then neither does the Internet promise.


Tip of the week

Watching TV should be easy, but GOOD GRACIOUS it’s not easy in the United States to watch the Olympic events we want to see. Brian X Chen, the consumer tech columnist for The New York Times, guides us through his efforts.

I learned the hard way that people who quit cable TV always have the small end of the stick.

This week I was trying to watch a rerun of the climbing events at the Olympics. I was particularly interested to see Adam Ondra, the best climber in the world.

But the semifinals recording that NBC made available on YouTube TV, the online bouquet of TV channels I pay for, reduced the climb coverage to just one hour. Much to my frustration, the segment omitted most of Ondra’s airtime. (Read this if you want to know how Ondra fared in Thursday’s competition.)

I posted a sarcastic complaint on Twitter. I quickly learned from my subscribers that the coverage of the Olympics that Americans see on prime-time TV or streamed on services like YouTube TV is significantly less than the more comprehensive coverage of Olympic events in the app. NBC Sports.

I downloaded the NBC Sports app and voila: full footage from every event! But I ran into another problem. To use the service, I had to log into the app with the account information for a cable TV subscription, which I don’t have.

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(There’s also coverage of the Olympics on Peacock, the video streaming service that’s part of the same company as NBC. It’s confusing.)

Long story short, the cord cut is awesome. It is much easier than before for sports junkies to watch matches and events live online. But it’s still optimal to have cable TV, too. Who can afford all these subscriptions?


  • We still haven’t found any health apps: New York is the first major jurisdiction in the United States where restaurants, gyms and other public places will require customers to provide proof of coronavirus vaccination. My colleagues Erin Woo and Kellen Browning examine the privacy implications of electronic systems for tracking vaccine recipients. (Other countries have also deployed digital vaccine verification systems.)

  • Facebook vs academics: The company said researchers who solicited volunteers to help study the opaque Facebook ad targeting system threaten people’s privacy. Facebook has a valid point, Bloomberg News says, as do academics.

  • Do you remember the Segway? No? Exactly. A former book agent writes in Slate about his role in overlaying the Segway, a novel but ultimately unpopular scooter introduced in 2001 that promised to change the world and didn’t. It’s a useful lesson in how the pressure of impossible dreams can ruin the chances of a new product.

Crowds at the 1996 Democratic National Convention danced on “Macarena”. It’s painfully old-fashioned and wonderful.


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