Monday, March 10, 2014

Jimmy's Excellent YouTube Adventure

During Jimmy Fallon's first four weeks as The Tonight Show host he averaged roughly 5 million viewers per night.  During the same four week period, he racked up roughly 100 million views on the show's dedicated YouTube channel.  Some folks on his social media team have clearly attended a YouTube boot camp or two as they are following every golden rule for growing a YouTube audience, from a compelling welcome/subscribe video to catchy thumbs and titles, to sharable content.  And unlike the many MCNs that are gasping for life outside the YouTube monolith, The Tonight Show is using YouTube strictly as a marketing platform, even choosing to run the clips ad-free.

Based on the pace of the first four weeks, the Tonight Show YT Channel could add well over 1 billion views by the end of the year.  To put that in context, it has taken Machinima, YouTube's most popular channel, six years to reach 4 billion views.  And up until recently, YT has been their primary focus and source of revenue.

One could argue that NBC's parent, Comcast and YouTube are the 2 dominant televisual distribution platforms in the world, both getting stronger by the day -  YouTube through new generational viewing habits and  endorsements like this, and Comcast through extraordinary acquisitions like NBC and now TimeWarner Cable.

But it seems YouTube is the real winner in this story.  I for one am a huge Jimmy Fallon fan, but have never watched his previous show or the current one on television, opting to browse the best clips on YouTube throughout the week.  Same for my teen age kids and many of my friends in the 25-54 demo.

Danny Hillis, an inventor and technology entrepreneur was quoted in a recent NY Times Sunday Magazine cover story where he highlighted Marshall McLuhan’s observation that the content of a new medium is the old medium: that each new technology, when first introduced, recreates the familiar technology it will supersede.