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Summary:

If YouTube views were a currency, then The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur would be a billionaire. Here’s how he got to one billion YouTube views with news.

cenk uygur the young turks

Beyonce, Bieber and… The Young Turks? Cenk Uygur’s liberal online video network is set to become the first news outlet to score a billion views on YouTube this week. For Uygur, that’s proof that online video isn’t just a novelty anymore, but a primary source of information for a whole generation. “They grew up on YouTube. That is their TV,” he told me during an interview last week.

Uygur has been doing political commentary online since 2005, but also brought his brand to traditional media, appearing first on MSNBC and then Current. Asked about the secret for hitting a billion views, he told me it’s partially because other media organizations have long underestimated YouTube and online video in general. “We have been really lucky that this field has been left alone to us for so long,” he said.

The Young Turks were one of the news organizations tapped by Google for YouTube’s original content push, which included sizeable advances to bring more professionally produced content to the site. Traditional news organizations like Reuters struggled to find an audience for content funded by these kinds of advances on the site, but Uygur told me that the collaboration with YouTube was a full success for his company. “We were the first channel to get refunded,” he said.

In the coming months, he plans to continue that growth story by adding additional shows, but he also hinted at further TV collaborations, including production work for TV networks and additional platforms for his existing shows.

So what’s Uygur’s advice for news organizations that have a hard time with online video? “There is one trick: It’s to be authentic,” he told me. Having an authentic voice is the only way to speak to a generation that has grown up with YouTube, he argued, adding: “To them, TV now equals fake. And online equals real.”

  1. The TYT army is just too strong, who can stand before us?

  2. Francesco Marconi Thursday, April 18, 2013

    AP’s channel already has 1.2 bn views on its channel. Am I missing something?

  3. @PhillyD aka sxephil is a “news” channel, and already has over a billion views. Where do you get your news? Apparently it isn’t from YouTube. And…….. AH FAIL.

  4. So Philly D’s billion views don’t count?

  5. Geoff goodman Thursday, April 18, 2013

    You realize that both AP and the Philip DeFranco Show had already passed 1 billion views yes? Either way congrats to TYT but I just wanted to let you know your title is wrong.

  6. I’m pretty sure Philip Defranco did this first…

  7. sxephil and AP aren’t news?

  8. roberto turco Sunday, April 28, 2013

    I love this show

  9. Ruben Martinez Thursday, May 2, 2013

    Philip Defranco IS BLOGGER not a journalist, his show is about his opinion on different thing from a blogger perspective. Is not a news channel just because you find out things in it, the same way that making a blog about movies doesn’t makes you a movie critic.

  10. Matt Graham Thursday, May 9, 2013

    Here’s a good article about The Young Turks from global media blog Their TV:

    http://www.attentional.com/their-tv-blog/2013/05/the-revolution-will-not-be-televised/

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