In a recent interview, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki revealed that news and news commentary videos represent a “very small percentage” of YouTube’s total views, with the majority of views coming from comedy, beauty, how-to, music, and gaming content.
Wojcicki made the comments when being pressed on the influence of news and news commentary on YouTube and insisted that this type of content is “an extremely small part of the platform.”
While Wojcicki didn’t specify the exact percentage of views that these news-related videos represent, her comments do provide creators with a possible explanation for YouTube’s move towards so-called “authoritative sources” like CNN over indie creators when it comes to news content.
As part of this move towards “authoritative sources,” YouTube has demonetized many popular channels that focus on news and politics. Some notable examples include comedian Steven Crowder (who has over 4 million subscribers) having, political commentator Carl “Sargon of Akkad” Benjamin (who has over 1.4 million subscribers across his three channels), and political commentary channel Black Pigeon Speaks (who has over 500,000 subscribers).
A Google insider has also said that YouTube uses a machine learning (ML) “fairness” algorithm to suppress content from news commentary channels including The Rubin Report (who has over 1 million subscribers), Tim Pool (who has over 1 million subscribers across his two channels), and PragerU (which has over 2 million subscribers).
On the surface, demonetizing and suppressing channels that generate millions of views seems to be counterintuitive. Not only does it anger creators and their fans but it also costs YouTube in terms of lost ad revenue. Additionally, most of YouTube’s supposedly “authoritative sources” don’t generate as many views as independent news commentators which means YouTube also loses out on monetizable views.
However if, as Wojcicki says, news and news commentary represents a tiny portion of overall video views, the relative costs of these decisions to YouTube will also be very small and it could explain why YouTube seems so willing to turn its back on creators in this space.