PewDiePie vs YouTube: A Valuable Lesson

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YouTube made a big bet in the fall of 2015: viewers will pay a monthly fee to lift the video from the platform to add and get access to the original program starring some of the site’s greatest personality.

The idea is to use these stars to attract subscribers to a large audience of $ 9.99 per month for exclusive content with YouTube Red Service.

The strategy contrasts with competitive services such as Netflix and Amazon, which produce the same level of polished original programs as traditional TVs, such as “House of Cards” or “Transparent”. If Netflix is ​​an online version of HBO, its high quality, scripting, then YouTube Red is more like Bravo or MTV with its own reality star.

But this week, Felix Kjellberg, the biggest star on YouTube (known as PewDiePie for his more than 50 million subscribers), shows the dangers of YouTube’s strategy and proves that if YouTube wants to resist the existing paid streaming service , It needs to be more critical to see the stars it pats help.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal found Kjellberg’s nine films with Nazi and anti-Semitic content, forcing Disney and YouTube to cut business relationships with him. YouTube canceled the second quarter of Kjellberg’s original red show and removed him from Google’s preferred ad network, which advertised next to the free video posted on YouTube. And Disney’s Maker Studios, published a video like a popular star like Kjellberg, will no longer work with him.

This event is an incredible drop in the grace of the biggest stars from YouTube. Kjellberg from his YouTube video in 2016 estimated $ 15 million, this figure may fall a lot this year, and now he is no longer able to access higher-income advertisers. Kjellberg responded to the controversy in an 11-minute YouTube video, accusing the media and the Wall Street Journal, especially in a Trump-style tirade.

The real story here is that Kjellberg represents a new variety of stars, one that grows on the internet and free to post anything he wants. That’s good and should be allowed to continue all the obvious freedom of speech you can think of. But if YouTube wants to turn this talent into something more mainstream to push the red subscription, it should look at the star it wants to bring again.

As Wired’s Emma Gray Ellis points out this week, Kjellberg publishes a long history of insensitive content in his video, including discussing selling slaves and comparing SNL actress Leslie Jones and Harambe’s gorilla. As John Herrman of the New York Times wrote, the recent controversy has extended Kjellberg’s “joke” to the rally of the right side of the Internet and other seed corners.

It is a dispute that should not be asked from WSJ’s YouTube and Disney’s discovery. YouTube is the perfect platform for people like Kjellberg, but it’s hardly like traditional video production. No writer. No producer. No agent or handler. Just people and their camera. If there is anything, YouTube needs a better way to review these new types of stars and then try to show them in a premium subscription product like red.

In the short term, removing Kjellberg from YouTube Red may have a minor impact on YouTube subscriptions. He is the most popular star on paid video service, but he is not the only one. Red has other advantages, such as all videos with no advertising experience and Google Spotify rivals Google Play Music.

But YouTube’s lesson this week is that when you click on people born on the Internet, you risk the worst part of the Internet. This is not a good foundation for building new business.