Shocking: YouTube Subscribers and Views Devalued – and Epic shakes-up the Creator Economy!

This Week: This week’s newsletter covers the devaluation of YouTube subscribers and views due to Shorts, Epic Games’ launch of “Creator Economy 2.0” for Fortnite, and the aftermath of TikTok’s CEO testifying in front of Congress. Plus, how generative AI will change the creator economy, along with trouble for Linus Tech Tips and Emma Chamberlain. Here’s what’s new and what caught my eye last week. Also, please welcome new sponsor Everbloom – a cool new way for anyone to invest in creators. It’s the end of March 2023, and here’s what you need to know.

Devaluing YouTube Subscribers: YouTube subscriber counts no longer matter, according to a story from Business Insider ($). It’s an unintended consequence of Shorts, as many creators have seen sub counts balloon after embracing YouTube’s TikTok killer. 18 months ago, we explored how Karat’s financial calculations showed that 1 YouTube sub is equivalent to 2.5 TikTok followers. That’s outdated now. Even worse, today’s creators are finding that most views come from non-subscribed users. One creator I talked to last week said that subscribers comprised 90% of his views 10 years ago, but today “that’s totally reversed”. This fundamentally changes how you produce, edit, and promote videos. Creator strategist Avi Gandhi thinks the average YouTube user has 10x more subs today than back in 2021 and says its “not a valuable metric for brands” either. And Spotter’s Rob Gabel points out that views counts are suspect too, with YouTube intermingling Shorts and long-form together. With subscribers devalued and intermingled view counts, how should we evaluate the reach, impact, and community of creators? Comments and thoughts welcome.

Epic Changes the Game for Creators: Fortnite is now open to creators as Epic Games launches “Creator Economy 2.0”. This includes a new Unreal Editor for Fortnite, making it easier for anyone to build experiences inside the popular game/world/metaverse, and a promise to share 40% of net revenue generated via these new “island” experiences. Kotuku puts it into context and shares some early creator efforts, including Toad Harbor from Mario-Kart and a Shrek/Godzilla mash-up . In a related move, Roblox countered with new AI tools to make it easier for anyone to be a creator. The creator-centric metaverse is finally coming into focus and battle lines are being drawn.

Mr. TikTok Goes to Washington: According to most reports it did not go well. The Information’s Kaya Yurieff was there in person and ended up chatting with some of the creators that came to town in solidarity. She followed up two days later with a report on TikTok’s damage control. Facebook’s former CSO sees the TikTok kerfuffle as a small piece of the broader “global struggle to gather and control information”, and that we should be focus instead on this many-tentacled demon. Alex Kantrowitz argued that CEO Chew is clearly not the boss of TikTok. Casey Newton explores the aftermath and how nearly 1 in 5 of TikTok’s users support a ban. And I weighed in with a look at how TikTok seems to be wielding the sword of disinformation – and how the argument that with 150m MAUs TikTok is too big to ban is irrelevant – it’s actually already happened.


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What I’m Watching:

Thanks so much for reading and see you around the internet. Send me a note with your feedback or post in the comments! Feel free to share this with anyone you think might be interested, and if someone forwarded this to you, you can sign up and subscribe on LinkedIn for free here!

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And don’t forget to listen to The Creator Feed – the weekly podcast Renee Teeley and I produce – get it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Stitcher!

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