YouTube to Your TV: The Shift of YouTube Content Creators to Network Television

Brent Joseph Hale


YouTube’s development from a small company acting as a mere repository of home videos that allowed users to share their memories operating under the tagline “Broadcast Yourself” to the frontrunner of a multi-billion dollar industry has been nothing short of remarkable. As some content creators have now escalated in popularity to the level of pop culture and social icons, many have begun or even completed the transition to the traditional major media industries. While some have been successful, particularly in the shift from YouTube to the music industry, of which the most iconic is that of Justin Bieber, others have found the transition to be challenging. Content creators like Lucas Cruikshank, the developer of “Fred” on YouTube, and Dane Boedigheimer, author of the “Annoying Orange,” have both made the shift to cable and have not seen the public reception that they enjoyed within the confines of YouTube. This paper explores the issue of why certain types of content shift seamlessly to traditional media while others do not, and why YouTube content creators have recently struggled in transitioning to traditional media outlets. This paper is a meta-analysis of prior market research on YouTube uploader demographics, the market they are attempting to shift to, and other rival online video markets like Hulu which exhibit an opposing shift of traditional media content onto the Internet. Network video content is shifting to the Internet partly in order to capture a market that has eluded them since the introduction of online video (namely young audiences). This paper explores why user-generated content creators are shifting in the opposite direction to network television. Interestingly, these opposing shifts indicate a similar understanding of the media market from the perspective of content creators, both professional and amateur. Both seek to capitalize on the segment of the population that they struggle to reach through their established method of content distribution. However, YouTube content creators find traditional media a tough market to enter, as the shift to network programming does not allow them to tailor content to their viewers’ needs in the way that YouTube allows, and the difference between the YouTube format and a traditional thirty minute segment makes the shift even more difficult for them. Because of the differences in the two formats, it is likely that YouTube creators in the current market will continue to find challenges in attempting the shift to network programming.


YouTube; Television, Networks

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