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How to get a billion views for your video.

I sometimes wonder what the big buzz about a million clicks on YouTube is all about. From an individual point of view that’s quite something to have achieved by filming your cat. However, letting a message travel to a millions or so screens over a couple of years does not rival television’s power in the way online news have begun to challenge printed news.

The most watched video on Youtube, Charlie bit my finger, has collected about 140 Million views in two years. And, as the statistics show, keeps adding them at a steady rate.


But that’s just no more than the audience of a single Champions League soccer game on traditional television. And let’s not talk about a Soccer World Cup Final with about 750 million viewers.

As long as YouTube hosts mostly user generated content, it will remain the slightly scary sideshow to the main event: professional entertainment like films or music videos. Of course, the suits at YouTube are aware of that. Despite all the hoopla around the brand, they were only able to tack advertising onto a measly 9% of all the videos they host. The other 220 million videos a day apparently seem unfit to promote anything.

Music videos have become the real reason why people go to YouTube. The top five music labels alone now control 64.52% of all of the views of the YouTube’s top 50, and are the top five publishers of all time. It just beat MTV as the first place music fans go to. The annoying fact that it is currently almost impossible to watch music videos on Youtube here in Germany is testament to how serious YouTube is about owning the music video market. Whether it’s battling with Viacom, Warner Music or GEMA, the terms of YouTube’s next phase are being fought over. And YouTube is where music videos want to travel to. Does this make Viacom/MTV nervous? You bet.

So, no surprise, that we find a music video in second place, on the all time charts. Avril Lavigne’s Girlfriend: 125 million clicks.

125 million! Nice. But quite far from a billion. So what was I thinking about? I was thinking about China. And the way the videoportals have taken a different route there. If the rumornews on Techcrunch are true, Chinese videoportals are nowhere near the black ink that YouTube pretends to have found. They’re still burning VC money like it’s 1999. Yet, they seem much closer to becoming next generation of television.

Why? Because the chinese television market is a mess. With more than 1500 local television stations, but only 1 national station, the choices on any given chinese TV set are scarce. Thus, from their beginning, the chinese online video plattforms have focused on their visitors most urgent need: more music, shows and feature films.

Beginning Febuary 2008 the Chinese Goverment started to get serious about intellectual property rights, so both Youku and Tudou, the two biggest sites, have been busy securing legal content for their plattforms and both are creating original content on top. In one of this attempts, Tudou teamed with Nokia to successfully launch a kind of „Who Wants to be a Slumdog Millionaire“ show. Professional Content remains King and Emperor in China. User Generated Content and the ironic commentary it often delivers about our oversaturated media landscape… not so much in demand.

There’s more difference. While the average time of video watching on YouTube is 12 minutes, the average Youku user spends almost an hour onsite, consuming a full three course meal compared to the YouTube snack. Chinese are already spending almost 50% more time watching video online than on TV. Combine that with already 150+ million unique users every month and a culture that loves sharing -- and that beautiful billion zooms into view.

Effectively, it’s already like television, just not like Television. So watch out StarWarsKids and Lolcatz videos! I love you and all, but you had you time in the spotlight. If you want to travel far and get near the top of the charts in 2015, be a music video. And be big in China.

PS: Sorry advertising: The billion is not for you! But you can still be famous. Here is a little viral ad for the Hyundai Elantra that racked up more than 500.000 views in a single day on Youku. Still trying to figure what’s more impressive. The numbers or the “humor” :-)

One Response to “How to get a billion views for your video.”
  1. mario.gamper says:

    Just found this review of Chinese video culture – on YouTube :-) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXBWi_PTack

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