With new channel investments, YouTube becomes even more like TV

Credit: YouTube

YouTube has long talked about wanting to be the future of TV, with millions of channels at your disposal. Turns out, some aspects of that future look very much like today’s television landscape: This weekend, news broke that YouTube is putting millions of additional dollars towards original content. But only 30 to 40 percent of the channels that received advances a year ago will get additional funding. That is very much in line with the success rate of new network television shows.

YouTube invested some $100 million late last year into high-quality original programming from Hollywood celebrities and YouTube talent alike. Some of these shows have been runaway hits, while others have tanked. But the overall success rate is very much like on TV, according to data recently published by Screenrant. The TV blog did the math on the number of new network shows canceled after just one season, and discovered that on average, only 35 percent of shows make it to a second season.

There are some fluctuations based on the network, with NBC apparently renewing fewer shows than Fox (27 percent vs. 38 percent), and there are also years that are worse for TV than others: During the 2009 – 2010 season, only 57 percent of all new network shows got canceled. Two years later, that number increased to 68 percent.

Screenrant writer Anthony Ocasio reminds us that this number doesn’t really say all that much about the quality of those shows:

“Instead, these numbers represent, at their core, a network’s ability to not only appropriately select programming for its audience (including potential), but to also schedule in such a way to allow for a series’ success.”

YouTube doesn’t have the scheduling problem, but the assessment is otherwise true for its original content as well. Channels that won’t receive any additional finding may not necessarily produce bad content, but just didn’t click with YouTube’s audience.

Of course, there are still some other differences between content produced for YouTube’s original channels and shows on TV. For one thing, those YouTube videos won’t disappear from the site now that they’ve been axed, as Peter Kafka reported Sunday. And in terms of ad revenue, TV content still performs a lot better. But at least when it comes to renewals, YouTube is acting very much like a TV network.

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