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The New YouTube Front Page

A few weeks ago YouTube made the pointless swap of calling the featured videos “spotlighted videos” and renaming spotlighted videos to “featured videos”. Yesterday, we got our first hint at the reason why: YouTube has completely removed the Featured, I mean, Spotlighted videos from the front page.

Instead, the front page of YouTube.com, for the millions of visitors a day who are not logged in to an account, displays a couple videos that are being watched now, and the “Most Popular” (a category that anyone still has yet to crack the algorithm of) videos from each of YouTube’s categories (ie, Entertainment, Music, etc. Not surprisingly, People & Blogs is not represented here.).

I saw a few people on twitter last night who were shocked. But honestly, I asked them to think about it for a moment. When was the last time they had watched a Featur-err-Spotlighted video? When was the last time they had watched one that was good? From the averages I had observed, landing on YouTube’s front page wasn’t the boost it once was.

I’ve been featured on YouTube’s global front page twice, and once on their UK front page. From those few features, I gained more than a million views and countless subscribers. But over the last six months, you’d be lucky to crack 100,000 views during your time on the front page. YouTube was featuring more and more videos at a rate so quickly they just didn’t drive enough traffic to your video to make the impact it once did. Your video fell off the front page too quickly for a feature to be account-changing, like it once was.

The YouTube changes I warned of a few weeks ago might not have been as dramatic as I originally wrote them, but one change at a time, it is all still happening. New channels today, without the help of an already-established, huge channels have absolutely no chance of “making it”. Now usually when I mention this, people default to pointing out Fred’s channel as an example of a “new” channel that’s become the number one Most Subscribed channel of All-Time on YouTube. Which is true. But what these people tend to forget is that Fred spent tens of thousands of dollars advertising his channel on YouTube. Remember a year ago, when every partner video you watched had Fred’s face next to it in the AdSense ad?

Now that the spotlighted videos have been renamed to Featured videos, we can all still talk and make videos about how we want to “be featured”. Unfortunately, while you may be featured, you’ll never again have the opportunity for YouTube to drive hundreds of thousands of viewers to your awesome video. Those days are over. Unless your initials are ABC or ESPN.


73 Responses to “The New YouTube Front Page”

  1. Shannon Says:

    I’ve been active in the YouTube community for about three years now, but recently I made myself a new channel (with a decent name) to start making videos. There’s nothing I can say that you haven’t already said, Alan, except that as a ‘NewTuber’ I’m pretty devestated by the changes.

  2. ktentacles Says:

    Honestly, I haven’t looked at “featured” (spotlighted?) videos in FOREVER. The ad is too huge, my subscription box is ALWAYS FULL (even after I watch a video… yeah, that’s not fixed…), the positioning of the “features” was too awkward and the videos were never good or what I wanted to watch.

    #justsaying

  3. Jonathan Paula Says:

    Another great article Alan - and you’re absolutely right about the Spotlight videos… I think the last video I saw spotlighted (spotlit?) was posted over a year ago - defintiely noticed it stopped providing an impact on anyone’s channels in the long-term.

    And while most of us can agree this is a bad thing (despite my huge following on YouTube, I think I’ll always be bitter I never got that feature when it counted) - I guess the one positive we can pull from this change is that perhaps now videos will rise and sink on YouTube based entirely on their own merits and ability to go viral?

    With the general population’s lack of faith in the “spotlighted” section however, we can rest easy knowing that when YouTube does spotlight a corporate video… no one will really care about it.

    - Jon

  4. nick Says:

    I would like to think I still have a shot at getting my face out there, but the realist in me knows that it just ain’t gonna happen. I’m not really sad per se, I am more annoyed. I have put a lot of time, effort, and love into my videos with the hope to find my niche. I feel like this was all for nothing at the moment.

    Don’t get me wrong, I will still make videos and participate in the community, because well… I love it. Youtube is like no other social network out there. You begin to really know the people you are communicating with, there is no blog to hide behind. It’s just you and your viewers. I don’t know what I am going to do to get myself out there, but I won’t give up.

    Thanks Alan, you inspire me man.

  5. Sean Says:

    I have to say that as a casual youtuber, the changes have been very subtle. To the extent that I would not have noticed a thing had I not read your book and recently found and started following this site.

    !!Check out my channel!! (sorry, shameless plug)

  6. miltownkid Says:

    It’s too bad that people are still focused on the number of views/subscribers instead of the QUALITY of views/subscribers.

    Even with the Featured videos of old, they only helped a small handful of users compared to the number of users that were making videos. The changes effect almost no one (says I!)

    I will recount a story here that, until now, I’ve only passed on in person:

    One of my CRAPPIEST videos led me to an awesome person and set of experiences. The video was one I took at a concert from my phone to test the upload capabilities. The video only got a handful of views and comments, but one comment was “My mom is the PR person for that dude!” I just thought to myself “That’s cool.”

    The next month I had a project where I needed the advise of a PR person, so I decided to see if I could talk to this subscribers mother. When I got her on the phone she dropped a ton of names on me, Russell Simmons being one of them. I got off the phone realizing that she was a tad more hadcore than my project required.

    Moral of the story is, it’s not how many views you get, but WHO views them and what you do to connect!

    I was featured once to and it was a pain in the a$$. A ton of spam, random messages about stuff, etc.

    Something else I’ll share, while it may be hard to be the next super funny/super entertaining guy, there are a million and one topics that no one is making videos about that people are looking for. Instead of trying to get featured (and a bunch of usually undeserved views), try making something people are LOOKING for (the search still works fine last I checked).

    I get recognized in the streets of Milwaukee pretty often now and it’s usually NOT because of a video that got millions of views. It’s because of a video that got a couple thousand, but it’s about something specific to Milwaukee that no one else made a video about yet (and they found it with… SEARCH).

    Alan isn’t too bad about it, but I get tired of people complaining about the changes on YouTube. I’ve only seen things get, on average, better and better.

    [/rant]

    As for the new front page let me take a look…

    I don’t like the new front page, but they’re doing their best to accommodate making $ and showing a variety of the 12 hours of video uploaded every minute (or whatever it is. :P )

  7. fallofautumndistro Says:

    @miltownkid

    Hah, It’s kinda my job here to complain about the changes. Not everything I say here affects me as much as I write about it, but for some it does. =)

  8. Jim (Bucknik) Says:

    I will miss the Featured Videos. I often checked them out when my subscription box was empty.

    It looks like “People & Blogs” does show up in the “Most Popular” block now. Unfortunately, it’s currently featuring TheAmazingAtheist.

  9. luv4piggy Says:

    They should keep the fornt page the way it is.

    Most countries like the UK can NOT watch movies and TV on youtube.

    what is the point of changing the front page?

  10. milowent Says:

    very good post, mr. lastufka. i am sure i’m just one of many who think youtube is killing its talent farm leagues by doing this! — http://www.anchorcove.net/?p=173

  11. Darcio90 Says:

    I’m seeing it is as them trying to not cause to many people to get angry about it all at once by slowly pushing us into one change at a time. Slowly just ruining youtube.

    This is the way youtube ends
    not with a bang but a whimper.

  12. Julian Says:

    This is sort of sad. It’s always been a personal goal of mine to be featured, but it’s not very prestigious now. I don’t care about how many views it gets, really. I wanted it to be featured so that people that would appreciate my video would watch it. You can’t let yourself get caught up in the numbers, as I am one to do, because you lose the essence of YT. And you end up like Fred. Well, I mean who wouldn’t want to be Fred right now? But I mean, he makes videos now more out of contract than out of fun.

    -Julian, ItTakesII

    #my2cents

  13. Chip Says:

    Featured? I’m still surprised I’m allowed to post my videos for the world to see. 10 years ago I was still working with 16mm film gear, double system sound, expensive transfer methods, and it took months and thousands of dollar to make a short only to end up with a stack of rejection letters from film festivals. You were lucky to show a short to 10 people.

    Now all I gotta do is shoot and upload to Youtube. This system of distribution is killing Hollywood. Yeah they might be owning Hulu and Youtube right now, but thats doing nothing to stop the bleeding. Me, and my room full of dusty film and video gear are sharing the same exhibit destination. Somebody can watch NFL highlights or they can watch me and buds catch some big fish. Only it still costs ESPN alot of money to acquire their highlights, and it costs me nothing but bait and beer to get mine. And in fact as a Youtube Partner they are still paying me for my videos.

  14. Shawno Says:

    I get all of my YouTube subscriptions via RSS. I do still watch the videos on the YouTube site. But I barely ever see the homepage or any of the categories pages or whatever. I just want the videos I want, and I think it’s this kind of attitude that rules the habits of most YouTube users these days.

  15. blackturtle.us Says:

    The other thing people forget about Fred is that he was already famous on YouTube before he launched the Fred channel. He was part of a channel called jklproduction which had several videos with over a million views. So it’s not like he came out of nowhere as some people claim!

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Viral Video Wannabe...

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…is written by Alan “fallofautumndistro” Lastufka, co-author of the book, “YouTube: An Insider’s Guide
to Climbing the Charts“. This site offers resources
for readers of my book and new tips and techniques expanding upon what is in my book. Visit the Purchase page above to order your own copy today!