Fred hits a million, apocalypse about 10 years away (for broadcast)

For the last few days I’ve been processing the momentous fact that Fred became the first YouTube channel to have one million subscribers. It’s a milestone that has to be taken seriously, because unlike the number of views a video has, a user has to physically click a few buttons in order to subscribe (and they have to have an account too). I’ve always said that as long as Nielsen still exists, advertisers will care more about viewership numbers than engagement levels or any other metric that seems more important to web producers, so like I said, this is important. Do I wish someone else had done it? Well that’s not really relevant.

The point here is that Fred has proven one part of a sustainable business model for online content. Advertisers are so intimidated by the seemingly infinite time scale that the long tail implies. Videos that rack up a few million views normally take months, if not years, to get there. One-hit-wonder viral videos are a notable exception to this, but no advertiser is honestly going to spend significant cash anywhere near something that has any possibility of being a flash in the pan. Advertisers are used to audiences that show up week after week for a show, and they’re used to knowing exactly what they’re going to get.

That’s exactly what Fred has given his advertisers. All of his videos get well over the million hits of only his subscribers, and they do it in less than a week. That’s better ratings than most cable shows get, and it’s a more effective platform for advertisers than their precious television shows.

Next step: someone creating something as watchable as Fred with production values of a prime time series. And I bet it’s gonna be a kid’s show.

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