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With over 21 million subscribers at one point, Ryan Higa used to be one of the most well-known and highly subscribed YouTubers on the platform. However, it’s been nearly two years since he uploaded new content. The reason—YouTube’s apparent preference for quantity over quality. In October 2019, Ryan made a video discussing how he is forced to create content that he isn’t comfortable with. “YouTube now essentially pays for how much content you produce rather than what content you produce,” he claimed in the video.
Over the last few years, an emerging trend among YouTubers to create long-format videos has been witnessed. This is partly driven by the platform’s algorithm that is believed to favour higher watch times. It is likely that the higher the watch time, the better the chance to earn money (through Youtube Partner Program) for YouTubers.
However, several users pointed out that YouTube has become increasingly monotonous precisely because of this algorithm.
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“YouTube really prides itself on recommendations, and very rarely do I get recommended a video that interests me; it just recommends more of the same; I’m not into watching the same type of content every time I open up YouTube,” a user on Reddit commented on a thread titled, ‘YouTube is so boring now.’
But is YouTube really getting boring?
YouTube boasts more than 2 billion monthly active users, who watch more than 5 billion videos or 1 billion hours of content daily. Out of the 15 million active YouTube channels, more than 29,000 have more than 1 million subscribers. At present, creators are believed to earn more than film actors solely through brand deals owing to the unparalleled growth of the creator economy.
However, with all the impressive stats, users consuming content on Youtube have noticed something amiss. The general audience, especially younger users, no longer find the content curated on Youtube to be aligned with their interests.
In 2020, the younger YouTube audience (kids and teens) spent an average of 75 minutes on the platform; one year later, that number dropped to only 56 minutes. But where is this audience finding the quality content it seeks?—Tiktok. These users spend more than 91 minutes on an average on TikTok daily, witnessing an increase in engagement from 82 minutes per day in 2020.
Ads ads, everywhere but content nowhere to be seen!
In 2021, Youtube revealed that the site will show adverts on videos that aren’t even part of the YPP programme, keeping all of the revenue for themselves.
Youtube advertisements and sponsorship mentions cause most YouTube viewers to lose interest in the content they’re engaging with. In a ten-minute video, it is typical to see a non-skippable advertisement for 30 seconds and a skippable advertisement for 5 seconds. However, users often report coming across more than two advertisements while watching a single video.
A while back, a reddit post went viral claiming that YouTube advertisements run for more than 17 minutes. However, it was later found that the advertisement was the result of a bug.
“No matter what channels I watch, I’m getting ads every 3 minutes. This is getting ridiculous. I don’t think the channel owners are doing this. I know they control how many and where the ads are, but I get the feeling that youtube themselves are behind this more frequent and repetitive (yes, the SAME ad 3 times in a 10-minute video) ad barrage,” a reddit user pointed out in a post.
TikTok’s ‘Salami Slicing’ strategy
‘Salami slicing’ is a term used in geopolitics to describe a series of numerous small actions, frequently carried out covertly which, when combined, yield a much larger action or result that would be difficult or illegal to carry out all at once. Tiktok is doing something similar.
TikTok’s initial 15-second time limit for content was later expanded to 30 seconds and then 60 seconds. Following that, the company announced that 3-minute videos would be introduced, and most recently, 10-minute videos.
In 2022, TikTok is expected to be far more than the lip-syncing platform. Similar to what was happening when Youtube first launched, but in a more concise and entertaining manner, Tiktok creators are producing a wide variety of material, such as dancing, cooking, doing magic tricks, playing with pets, and recreating comedic plays.
In addition, Tiktok recently introduced the “live” option for its users, which the platform claims would serve as a channel for bringing brands and viewers together.
Longer videos and the Live feature, both of which have recently been added, clearly show that Tiktok is attempting to further expand its user base. Considering YouTube’s dwindling user base—by introducing repetitive and unskippable advertisements along with a streak of non-watchable recommendations—it is plausible that TikTok might successfully grow to be as significant as Youtube. According to Meta and Snapchat, TikTok is the social media platform of the future.