YouTube announced today it’s making a change to a prominent video discovery feature on its site in order to showcase more videos made by newer creators and music artists. The company says that it will begin to highlight those video makers who are “On the Rise” on its Trending Tab in the U.S., and will rotate the selection of promoted videos on a weekly basis.
Each week, YouTube will select two creators and two musical artists to be featured in the Trending section, based on a number of factors. In order to be considered, the video channel will need to have over 1,000 subscribers as a minimum. Selection will also be based on things like viewcount, watchtime and subscriber growth.
YouTube didn’t detail specifically what metrics the creator will need to achieve in order to be considered, likely in an effort to discourage creators from trying to game the system to their advantage.
The decision will not be based solely on an impartial algorithm though, YouTube notes in a blog post about the changes – there’s an editorial process in place, too.
The company explains the goal with this change is to better feature new talent on the site, which sees more than 1,000 creators passing the 1,000 subscriber threshold every day. Creators will be notified by YouTube when they’re featured so they can alert fans and use their promotion to grow their audience.
The move comes at a time when there’s been some concerns about declines in viewership among YouTube stars, which could foster the need to find new voices. Creators are always threatening to quit, to the point of parody, but there’s an undertone of dissatisfaction with the daily grind involved with being an internet star.
According to one study, stars with over 10 million subscribers saw a drop in views over the second half of 2016, with some 49 big channels going from 4.1 million daily views on average at the beginning of last year to just over 3.7 million daily views by November. (YouTube had responded to the report by saying the study, produced by SocialBlade, didn’t accurately reflect subscriber activity.)
Top star PewDiePie even recently pranked fans saying he’d delete his channel because of his video views declines. But though it was a joke (he just quit his vlog), there was an element of truth to his complaints: more social media stars are finding internet fame – whether moderate or outsized – isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Top YouTuber Casey Neistat also quit his daily vlog, and is focusing on his new work with CNN.
Meanwhile, much of YouTube’s middle class is struggling to balance their relative success with their need for financial security – that is, they may have tens or even hundreds of thousands of subscribers, but still need to work a day job.
What this all means for YouTube is that it needs to make sure it enables a new cadre of stars to emerge from its hit factory on a continual basis in order to keep fans engaged and watching. And it needs to do so before the old guard retires.
In that context, the change to start anointing newcomers with more instant access to fame makes sense, from a strategic standpoint.