The Reality of A YouTube Front Page Feature

UPDATED: So we were on the front page of YouTube on Saturday! That was pretty fun, though a bit surprising to the ten web series creators we featured, whose inboxes that morning were quickly flooded with subscription notifications and comments.

But what does being featured on the front page of YouTube mean for a previously unknown show, in an organically generated list instead of a sponsored slot? After an hour or so on Saturday of watching the viewcounts climb on our own video, I reached out to a few of the folks we featured to find out what their results were.

And the answer is: If you’re devoted to viewcounts, then being featured on the front page of YouTube is AWESOME. Just some of the reporting I got back:

  • By the numbers, the big winner was Project Rant, whose total views made the biggest reported jump, going from 20,233 to 232,000. The featured episode received over 160,000 views, with the other episodes getting at least an additional 1000 views. Subscriptions jumped as well, from 59 to 1022. “Homepage exposure on YouTube is pure gold – and will make a huge difference in your raw view data if you are a relatively undiscovered show on YouTube,” co-creator Luis Esteban Caffesse said.
  • The first episode of The Sanctum jumped from 4,000 views to 61,000 views, and the following episodes jumped from a range of 200-300 views to 1500-2300 views.
  • The episode of Ignite featured jumped from approximately 10,000 views to over 40,000 views, though with minimal change in subscription counts.
  • Vicariously went from about 1,000 views to 60,000 on Saturday, and is still climbing. It also saw a subscriber bump of about 200.
  • Man Vs. Thing also jumped from about 1,000 views to nearly 62,000 views, and in addition now has over a hundred subscribers. The other videos jumped in views by 100 percent.
  • Downsized got a total of 48,855 new views on Saturday, and about 40,000 of those were for the featured episode. “Currently, the first episode has almost 44,000 views, and the subsequent episodes have also gone up several thousand views, so viewers are checking out the rest of the episodes,” creator Daryn Strauss said via email.
  • UPDATE: Acting School Academy‘s featured episode gained 200,000 more views in the first day, and other videos received an additional 100,000 views. In addition, their subscribers increased from 675 to 2000, and those numbers continue to grow. The show is approaching one million total views across all networks. “That’s a number we can take places, get meetings with, and hopefully [use to] get funding for a second season,” director M. Ian Smith said via email.

One consistent element is that while the featured videos did very well, the other episodes didn’t have as huge of a bump. That’s because when a video finishes playing on YouTube, it doesn’t immediately offer you the opportunity to watch the next episode in the series unless you’re in playlist mode. More call-to-action is necessary in order to capitalize on a feature like this.

In addition, most of the creators mentioned a dramatic increase in commenters, many of whom represented the lowest common denominator in comments YouTube has become known for. Man Vs. Thing creator Rob Schulbaum said in an email that “Overall the series has become the target of an unexpected stream of bile and vitriolic criticism. It didn’t seem to be enough that a user express that they didn’t enjoy it, but a number suggested that I abandon my career in entertainment. I’ve also been informed that it’s totally ‘gay.'” That’s definitely something to brace yourself for, should you be so lucky.

I’d like to thank YouTube again for giving us a chance to give these shows more exposure — it was a real honor. But I’d also like to thank everyone who commented on our intro video to compliment my “tatties.” My parents and grandmother really appreciated seeing that.

Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): New Use For Web Stats: Finding Hot Markets, Offline


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