Balancing freedom of speech and with the responsibility that comes with it is a tough juggling act for global content operators like Google and YouTube. Tasked with finding a model that works and makes money is Google’s global head of content partnerships, Robert Kyncl
Cats pulling funny faces, Britney’s latest video or shaky reruns of old TV shows were generally the spectrum of clips you were accustomed to seeing uploaded on video-sharing website YouTube.
Now under the wing of media giant Google since 2006, its new owners are keen to see some return on their $1.65bn investment, but it seems they are not the only ones’ whose bank balances are benefiting from the 72 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute.
The organic nature of the medium means it is almost impossible to predict which clips will go viral and who will become the next big global overnight media sensation. Two recent contrasting examples are ‘Gangnam Style’ and the ‘You Need To Toughen Up A Bit’ clip.
Made by South Korean rapper Psy, ‘Gangnam Style’ was released as a single in July but by late October over half a billion people had watched the video on YouTube and it became number one in music charts all over the world, with appearances on everything from ‘Saturday Night Live’ to Samsung commercials and even a recent business report on Bloomberg TV.
Only days ago, British father Lee O'Donoghue recorded his four-year-old daughter Delilah scolding her two-year-old brother Gabriel after an argument in the playground and uploaded it onto YouTube so his wife could view it. Within hours, the 65 second comical clip had gone viral, chat shows from the US to Australia were calling Lee’s phone for interviews and TV news crews began arriving outside the O’Donoghue house.
Psy has since become a household phenomenon and the O'Donoghues have been signed up by Viral Spiral, a UK firm which specialises in helping YouTube stars to capitalise on their moment of fame. It previously helped a couple earn around $800,000 from a clip of their baby biting his kid brother’s finger.
For Robert Kyncl, Google’s global head of content partnerships and the man responsible for YouTube, this is exactly the kind of news he likes to hear. However, sitting down to speak in Abu Dhabi, he says he now determined that more of this kind of viral friendly content will start being generated in the Middle East.
While there are 167 million videos viewed every day in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), putting the region in the number two spot in the world behind the US and ahead of Brazil, only one hour of YouTube video is uploaded in the MENA per minute.
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