Peter Robinson picked up on Chris Moyles’ YouTube channel last week, giving it a not entirely positive review. However, it was definitely more positive than the ripped off versions that the Mail and Mirror then followed up with.
The crux of the feedback is “Oh the mighty have fallen, he used to have 8million listeners and now he’s only got 10,000 subscribers”. I think fundamentally they have all missed the point and we should be celebrating what Moyles is doing rather than slagging it off.
Views & Subscribers
A lot of people’s understanding of YouTube is watching viral content, slip ups, cute animals or rips of performances/TV show segments. These, because they are viral hits, tend to have large numbers of views. What you’re watching is the hits. But that is very much just one side of YouTube.
To me, the interesting part of YouTube is the material that’s being created specifically for the platform. Rather than just using it to host some videos that you want to point to.
YouTube’s core aim is to make people consume more minutes of video content on the site. It wants people to keep returning to consume regular material rather than just the latest 1D video or see that lion jump into the arms of that man.
To get there, it’s funded quite a lot of channels from a variety of sources, to see what ends up being popular. That’s ranged from Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube to ITN’s Truth Loader and All3Media’s Daily Mix. At the same time, more naturally, kids with cameras have put themselves and their lives on the internet and become ‘YouTubers’.
Both types of content work for YouTube, the branded content working for slightly older audiences whilst YouTubers are providing a reach of 13 to 19 year old bigger than any traditional media platform.
YouTube’s focus on ‘subscribing’ to these channels encourages the content to more easily flow to fans and thus drives up the minutes consumed. You may have seen YouTube’s outdoor advertising currently pushing Zoella, Slow Mo Guys and Vice News. All native YouTube content.
The YouTubers phenomenon, in particular, is fascinating. Fresh faced attractive youngsters in their teens/early 20s create light, fun videos that have massive resonance with teenagers. The number of subscribers people like Zoella, Alfie and Marcus have are in the millions with videos getting 1m plus views.
What was telling at Radio 1’s Teen Awards last weekend was that the YouTubers on show – Dan/Phil, Zoella, Alfie, Tyler – were getting much bigger cheers than many of the popstars and pretty much all of the Radio 1 presenters.
To be honest, this isn’t really surprising. Teens have pretty much no traditional media targeting at them any more. Kiss/Capital/R1 is broader and needs people in their 20s to listen, CBBC doesn’t appeal to 13+, there’s no T4 any more and E4/BBC Three/MTV again need to be broader propositions. For a mobile generation with laptops in their bedrooms, YouTubers are people like them. Funnier, more attractive people, granted. But they’re much more representative of a desirable teenage life than anything traditional media gives them.
Radio 1 has dipped its toe in the water with Dan and Phil on Sunday and now its weekly one-hour YouTuber show, which is more than anyone else has bothered with. However I think we’ll start to see that ghettoising them in a 1 hour show is like early 90s Radio 1 just playing a few hours of dance a week, at a time when it was a huge part of young people’s lives.
Mass Media and YouTube
Anyway, as the people who write the Moyles knocking articles use YouTube for viral hits rather than subscribing to content themselves, they misunderstand what it takes to make native YouTube content really work.
Indeed, you can tell the media organisations that are driven by one-offs vs regular subscribers by looking at the stats.
If we take Key 103 in Manchester, they have around 3,000 subscribers, which is alright for something that clearly not a huge amount of effort is put into. Their YouTube homepage is, er, a little bare. If we nip into the video section, view counts range from 30 to 30,000. It, like many radio stations, give an incredibly confusing ‘subscriber-led’ experience. It veers from news, to breakfast show bits, to Esther Rantzen, to auditions for their girl band and from The Vamps to vandalised graves!
YouTube subscriptions and the ability to grow views for channels comes from consistency. Pretty much every radio station fails at delivering it and it’s no surprise that view and subscriber counts for the majority of radio stations are low.
One of their successes is an interview with The Vamps with over 10,000 views. I’d wager that pretty much all of that came from Vamps fans unconnected with the radio station.
YouTube should not be a dumping ground for station video of massively variable quality, with uploaders hoping that something will be a viral hit. For Key (and stations like it) just do the celebrity stuff and brilliant things like their Surprisal video – just be consistent. AND LESS VANDALISED GRAVES!
At the other end of the spectrum, Radio 1 are very proud of their 1.6m subscribers. They almost suffer a problem at the other end of the spectrum. The content they make is great and there’s lots of it. Amazing live lounge performances, viral stunts, interviews, features like Fire in the Booth and Innuendo Bingo. But I think they suffer from a consistency problem too.
They’ve worked hard to make sure that 1.6m people see their new videos in users’ feeds, but there seems to be very few views generated from this massive advantage. Of course not everyone’s going to like everything, but 6-7k views for film reviews or even 40k for a decent guest on Innuendo Bingo seems a low engagement rate when you think about the number of subscribers.
Live Lounges look and sound great with amazing stars, but like Key 103’s Vamps video how many of Taylor Swift’s 150k views for a performance of Love Story and 1.5m for her Vance Joy cover come from R1 fans rather Taylor’s own searching out that video on whoever’s channel it happens to be.
Now don’t get me wrong, viral reach is great. For radio it’s got the potential to be a great reach builder for a station, but it has very little to do with that ‘subscriber’ number – or what that subscriber number has the potential to deliver. Also – if you know a video has good viral potential because it’s with a celeb with a strong fan base – PLEASE remember to use it to plug your radio station. When’s the Live Lounge on? What station is it on? Who’s up next?
On this Taylor Swift video the branding in the performance is all Live Lounge – there’s no BBC or Radio 1 mentions. No one in the video says it’s part of Fearne’s show or how to tune in. There’s top and tail R1 branding, but with no radio call to action – the only CTA is to subscribe. BUT WHY? Surely one of the central purposes of growing subscribers has to be so that more teens then listen to the radio station?
To me, if I was trying to prove that my videos were working I would be looking at the view counts of non-viral videos. What is the content that people are coming to me for? How can I make them return regularly. It should be the same thing you think about with your radio content.
I’d also see success as the percentage of subscribers who go on to watch a video.
I wish I could point to my radio station, Fun Kids, as having the answer. We definitely don’t. We need to be better at growing our subscribers and recently we’re trying to be better at focusing content on music-based entertainment (that is after all what we do on the radio). We’re also experimenting with additional channels that do different types of content – so we can maintain a core experience but still have the room to try new things. However, sometimes we still forget to plug the radio station properly.
Presenters’ Own Media
I’m always stunned how little of their own media radio presenters have. DJs build a relationship with their audiences on-air. If I wanted people to listen to me on that radio station more, I’d be doing all I could to continue that relationship on other media, so I could cross-promote back. Twitter is a good start of that, but it isn’t the be all and end all. Where are their YouTube channels, their blogs, their newsletters? If they owned more of a relationship with their audience they would become more employable and get a better deal come contract renewal time.
I’m particularly surprised why no DJs really do YouTube. Especially the younger end. If I was on Kiss, Capital, Radio 1 or The Hits I’d be spending significant time on weekly videos growing my relationship with a core part of the audience.
[update: A commenter points out the success of Westwood with WestwoodTV on YouTube]
YouTuber Zoella has 6million subscribers and each of her videos get around 1.5-2m views. They are also mainly watching for her. She doesn’t have, or need, a viral video collaboration with The Vamps or Taylor Swift to drag their audience in. She is consistent, entertaining and audience-focused. She delivers what they like and expect and she does it once a week so as not to overload their feeds.
Back to Moyles
This is why I’m a fan of what Moyles is doing.
He does not need to do YouTube videos. If he wanted to be back on the radio he could be there right away. If he wanted to wait a while for something perfect to come up he could easily do that, quietly. If he wanted to be in the public eye, he’d be on Strictly!
I hope what he’s trying to do is to turn some of his large, passive broadcast audience into fans.
Our relationships with listeners is a funnel. So for Moyles he had 8million listeners. They consumed him through a passive device – the radio. Super low effort. Lower down the funnel are his Twitter followers – 3m of them. A little more effort – pressing follow – and not all of his audience will be on Twitter, so of course it’s smaller. Of those Twitter followers, how many see his tweets in a week? Maybe 300k or 400k? You would need to be a regular Twitter to see them pop up occasionally. How many of the follower accounts are bots or dormant? Probably quite a few.
Then you take the ones who see it and count how many then click through to something. 20% perhaps? How many then do the next action – donate, read something, watch a video? How many links do you flick through in Twitter each day and ignore? Even from people you really like?
However, each person who does click through and watch? Well that’s engagement.
I care much more about people at the bottom of the funnel than I do at the top. They’re the valuable ones.
In radio it’s your biggest fans who give you the bulk of your hours. As a station your job should be to create fans, to take them through radio’s funnel – awareness, sample, light listener, regular listener, fan.
Moyles is getting 15 to 20k views per video from a percentage of his 10k subscribers and tweets/Facebook etc. I think this is great. His job is to entice people to watch videos for the first time and then get them to subscribe. Those subscribers should then be the base for a larger number of views of future videos.
He’s also encouraging subscription for an audience – 25+ – who aren’t native subscribers like the teens are. They’re the viral consumers rather than today’s subscribing ones.
It is not an easy task to do. But can you name any other radio presenters who have bothered to try?
The other thing I like is that he’s clearly making and editing it himself. One of the reason Moyles was so good on the radio was that he was a brilliant producer. He understood the theory, he was a brilliant technical practitioner and he was funny and creative – a perfect combination. I think he’ll have a much better chance of success with his videos as he better understands what works and how to put it together.
So far, he’s nine videos in, he’s experimenting with form and content and that’s going to keep evolving. The hardest part is keeping up the enthusiasm to keep going.
14,000 people watched last week’s Innuendo Bingo on the R1 Channel, something supported by a broadcast radio station and 1.6m subscribers. 15,600 watched this week’s Moyles vlog on a channel with 10k subscribers and just some Twitter for promotion. I think he’s doing alright.