SourceFed, a.k.a. the "bacon of the news" on YouTube, emerged as the first successful channel among Google’s premium content offering yesterday, when the show hit 500,000 subscribers with 158 million views to date.
Google invested roughly $400 million in nearly 100 shows last January as part of YouTube’s Original Channel Initiative, a bid to rival TV networks as a digital content creator. The productions feature stars like Amy Poehler, Chris Hardwick, Madonna, Deepak Chopra, Kevin Smith, Tony Hawk, and the occasional YouTube celeb. Advertisers are paying between $5 and $10 million for spots in the shows.
Despite the star power, so far, the top-performing shows have been created by people who initially built their audience on YouTube. This shouldn’t come as a surprise: These young Web celebs understand the online video space, and some of them have grown up there. It is only fitting, then, that the first premium content channel to hit a major milestone of success would be one created by a YouTube mega-personality.
James Haffner, SourceFed's producer, believes the channel's success lies in a couple of factors: First, the channel provides “easily consumable” content that's also accessible on mobile devices (accounting for 50% of views). “We get to have fun every day, but at the same time, we inform people,” Haffner said. And because each video is short, people can pick and choose among segments. Second, the way the four SourceFed show hosts interact with fans is key, because it fosters a sense of online community. “Our viewers treat us like we’re their best friends,” Haffner explained.
A video celebrating SourceFed’s accomplishment emphasized this relationship with viewers, which features fan-submitted videos of viewers describing why they love SourceFed. Reasons mentioned range from SourceFed’s “non-partisan” and “non-boring” news to “you guys are like a family, and we appreciate that.”
Editors note: an earlier version of this post had an incorrect number in the title.