TV needs YouTubers ... but why would a YouTuber seek success on this ageing platform?


Yesterday the BBC ran a curious article. Titled: ‘Joe Sugg on Strictly gives YouTubers hope for TV success’ the question it begs is: why? Not why does Zoella’s brother give hope for TV success, but why would a YouTuber seek success on this ageing platform?

Viewing figures for free-to-air television channels suggest that the telly needs YouTubers more than Youtubers need the telly. The average age of a BBC1 viewer is 61. It’s a year older on BBC 2.  Research by Enders Analysis places ITV’s average viewer at 60. It’s two years younger on Channel 5 at 58 and on Channel 4 the average viewer’s age is 55. Even at E4, the average age is 42.

In contrast, YouTube is becoming the viewing platform of choice. Vloggers are enjoyed as a source of content, creativity, inspiration and aspiration.

Almost half of 3-4-year-olds (45%) in the UK have watched programmes on YouTube. Whilst 89% of 12-15 year olds have accessed the video sharing platform.However, this year there has been a shift among 8-11s in how they prefer to view content. According to Ofcom’s annual study of media use and attitudes forty-nine per cent say they prefer to watch YouTube content rather than TV programmes on a TV set. This is a rise from 40% on 2017 figures.

TV needs YouTubers
TV needs YouTubers

This increase among 8-11s means that there is a clear preference for watching YouTube content rather than TV programmes on a TV set, both among 8-11s (49% vs. 14%) and 12- 15s (49% vs. 16%).

Children aged 8-15 feel that linear free-to-air television fails to reflect their experiences, in terms of showing children that look like them, who live where they live and do the sorts of things they and their friends like to do. Children feel pushed from this traditional programming towards the Internet.

YouTube feels more personalised according to the report. Children can more easily navigate to programmes and content they like, that are aimed at them, and content specifically tailored to their hobbies and interests.

The BBC knows the average age of its viewers is ageing. Following younger viewers was a key driver for BBC Three to move solely online in 2016. Speaking at the time the BBC said there was “clear public value in moving BBC Three online, as independent evidence shows younger audiences are watching more online and watching less linear TV". The target age for BBC Three viewers is 16-24.

TV needs YouTubers

The Guardian interviewed James Corden back in 2016. The conversation with Lisa Campbell covered the now iconic Carpool Karaoke on his CBS television programme: ‘The Late Late Show’.

“Success has come quickly, certainly in a digital sense,” notes Campbell, continuing however, there is little talk of ratings, which at an average of around 1.3m are respectable, if unimpressive, for its post-midnight time slot.

“So, some 210 shows and 18 Carpool Karaokes later, are online hits the key? “I’m only driven by that,” says Corden. “I genuinely couldn’t tell you how many people watch our show, because I feel like in this slot, we’re not really in the ratings business, we’re just in the relevance business. My major ambition is just to stay relevant. That’s it, to be in the conversation – that’s all that was ever asked of us really.

Social Blade, the social media analytics tool, puts the TV programme’s 1.3m television viewers into perspective. In the last 30 days The Late Late Show has been viewed 123,302,400 on YouTube. To date, the YouTube channel has amassed 5.4 billion views  (5,427,328,610). Now that is staying relevant.

Scott Guthrie is a professional adviser within the influencer marketing industry. He is an event speaker, university guest lecturer, media commentator on influencer marketing and active blogger. He works with brands, agencies and platforms to achieve meaningful results from influencer marketing. That tells you something about him but it's not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So, read more here.

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