Dear YouTube | Cathal Ellicott

Dear Susan Wojcicki;

I recently signed up for the free trial month for YouTube Red, your online streaming service, and I have been bitterly disappointed. The exclusive content you provide is limited to two movies: a documentary about a YouTuber on tour and a reality show where PewDiePie is put into absurd situations. I’m four days into the trial and I’ve already watched everything. That’s worth $10 a month to you? For the same price, Netflix offers a whole archive of films and television shows and even creates their own Emmy-worthy material. PewDiePie in a zombie simulator hardly has the depth or resonance as House of Cards or Orange is the New Black. You have thousands of content creators on your website; why is the selection so bleak?

Now, I’m confident you’ll slowly be adding more and more content, but I am curious about who will be producing this content. I mean, just look at your trending page. Everyday it seems you’re just promoting a different selection of chat show segments, buzzfeed articles, and new music videos. You don’t promote new, interesting, upcoming channels, nor do you seem to support channels that aren’t run by large companies. Will you make shows and movies created by independent YouTubers? Or will I get a BuzzFeed show about a cat with eyebrows?

Furthermore, there have been lots of issues regarding fair use and copyright on YouTube. Channels like I Hate Everything and Channel Awesome have claimed that they have had unjustified copyright complaints from movie producers and spammers causing penalties on their channel. In these cases, you were all too happy to suspend accounts, delete videos, stop monetization or remove accounts completely. This was done without any just reason, without any inquiry into whether the complaints were valid, and you didn’t listen to the defense of the creators who call YouTube their home. This demonstrates, yet again, how YouTube is controlled by the wealthy studios rather than by the small producers who rely solely on uploading their content to YouTube. Luckily, Doug Walker from Channel Awesome and Alex from I Hate Everything are big enough to create some noise, but not every YouTuber has the clout.

I know new content isn’t the only feature you offer. Red subscribers also get to save videos for offline views and remove advertisements. But these features are near redundant. I mean who doesn’t have a data plan? When is anybody offline? Wifi is offered everywhere, even on planes, so I don’t think I’ll ever need to save a video. And a lot of people have already banished adverts with the handy AdBlocker they offer on the Google Chrome extensions. For that I don’t have to pay anything.

Now, people will argue that AdBlocker steals from the content creators on YouTube rather than YouTube itself: they can’t advertise, so they can’t make money. But let’s not pretend you care about the small creators on your website. We’ve already established how little you care about the Doug Walker’s of the world.

So, until you start to diversify your content, promote and support the smaller channels, and fix the fair use issues, I will not renew my subscription to YouTube Red, and will encourage others to do the same.

Hoping you start to care and evolve with the digital age,

Cathal Ellicott

 

 

Cathal Ellicott, Blue Muse staff writer.