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MIPTV 2014: YouTubers living in symbiosis with their fans

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By Marie Jamet
MIPTV 2014: YouTubers living in symbiosis with their fans

Digital Fronts – MIPTV’s programme for the production, distribution and acquisition of original content produced exclusively for online audiences – got underway on Wednesday (April 9). Online companies presented their work in various screenings, workshops and talks throughout the day.

Famous and successful YouTubers had the opportunity to speak. Away from search-based presentations on the relation of TV and online platforms – like the one Twitter’s Deb Roy did the day before, – their testimonies gave an insight into how they work and how they got to where they are today. Even though the invited YouTubers produce videos on very different subjects (gaming, news, sport, humour), they shared some findings. One key element to their stories was their public and how they relate to them.

Making a reference to Alex Carloss’ keynote, Michael Stevens, creator of VSauce channel, explained the “scale of the audience available on YouTube is gigantic” but just sits there whereas “a fanbase is going to subscribe and watch everything you make”.

Jack Harries, from travel documentaries channel JacksGap, explained that on YouTube, the public stays and feels very close to the owner of a channel: “People are engaged with you as a person, and also your story”. A fact with which Joseph Garrett – aka Stampylonghead – agrees. He said the children who subscribe to his gaming channel are “messaging me, they’re sending me pictures. You become more of a friend to them”.

But Ana Kasparian from the news channel The Young Turks warned: “if you want a genuine audience that sticks around and is loyal, you have to listen to their feedback”. And they do give feedback immediately, she said.

“if you want a genuine audience that sticks around and is loyal, you have to listen to their feedback”
Ana Kasparian, The Young Turks

She also shared what she considers as a trait of the Millennials: “ “There’s this misconception that young people have no interest in the news,” she began. “We discovered they do want to be informed, but they want to be informed by people they can relate to.”

René Rechtman, president of Maker Studios, one of the biggest multi-channel networks on Youtube, considers there is a cultural shift going on: “Fans, hobbyists, creators are new publishers. And they are the new distribution.” Alex Carloss had said the day before that “fans blur borders”, speaking of geographic borders, but to René Retchman they also blur borders between producers, creators and fans.

Quoting numbers he showed that these new fans are mainly young – 80% of Maker’s subscribers are aged 13-34 –and, for almost half of them, watching videos on mobile. He stressed out these facts were important: “We had the newspapers who neglected what happened, the music industry neglected what happened. We cannot do the same.”