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Tracking the Audience for YouTube Premium Content

Many observers balked when Google declared its $100 million investment in making YouTube the king of Internet television. What does a search engine turned tech giant know about entertainment? Enough, apparently. Half a year later, many of Google’s original channels are now among the site’s most popular. Exactly how popular, though, has been hard to know. Until now.

For video entrepreneurs, brand marketers, and ad buyers, evaluating the success of Google’s original channels has been a conundrum. There was no online equivalent to Nielsen’s authoritative television surveys. Nielsen itself launched its own YouTube rankings at the end of June for the month of May, but it seems to have abandoned the project after one month. comScore counts video streaming users and views each month, but it doesn’t break out Google’s premium content.

Now two outlets have stepped in to fill the void. In May, Entertainment publication Deadline Hollywood began tracking YouTube premium channels based on data from the analytics website VidStatsX, long trusted among YouTube professionals. And earlier this week, Ad Age launched its own tracking tool. It is unclear where Ad Age gets its data; possibly directly from YouTube.

Deadline Hollywood presents its findings every week in a simple chart noting weekly and total views, the previous week’s ranking, and the date when the channel launched. In addition to the chart, Deadline Hollywood provides an analytical breakdown on channels that have made significant advances (or losses) in viewership plus context and related news.

In contrast, Ad Age’s tool is “clickable and entertaining,” with big graphics in the form of screenshots from videos. Ad Age displays rankings, weekly views, as well as a percentage comparing the week’s view counts to those of the previous week. Hovering the mouse over “view more data” reveals a channel’s all-time views and the number of subscribers.

Deadline Hollywood and Ad Age are respected sources of media industry perspective, but neither tools are sufficient by themselves. Industry professionals interested in keeping up on Google’s entertainment investments can also check out William Hyde’s “Winners and Losers” show on YouTube. Hyde is a self-styled YouTube reporter and analytics junkie, and as a well-connected member of the YouTube community, he provides context and little-known industry secrets and tidbits. While Hyde admits he has been slacking on his “Winners and Losers” segments, he mentioned in an interview that he is interested in doing an equivalent with a focus on YouTube’s Original Content channels.

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