An Open Letter to YouTube: The Downward Spiral

Dear YouTube,

About 3 years ago, you launched a service called YouTube Red. With this, came YouTube Music and YouTube Gaming. Over the course of the years, we saw YouTube Kids, YouTube TV, and a refresh to YouTube Music, which is meant to replace Google Play Music. We also saw the new Polymer design language to the website, a dark mode, and some more stuff.

With this, there is something I have started to notice: You are capable of building good products. YouTube Music is actually pretty great. Same with YouTube TV. YouTube Kids could use some work on the algorithm, but otherwise, it was a great install on my little sister’s tablet. YouTube Gaming is kind of the black sheep, but that’s really because it’s been neglected… you either need to work on that or shut it down.

Then there’s regular YouTube. so far, Polymer and the new Friends feature are the only real good things that have changed. Subscriptions has grown worse, with the new bell icon being used to tell YouTube that… you want to receive all the videos a YouTuber uploads. Yeah, I totally subscribed to get the occasional video.

I could fix the subscription feed. Duudl3 could fix the subscription feed in a day. It’s this simple: The Subscription Page should be an RSS reader, with subscription buttons subscribing those channel’s RSS Feeds to your reader. IT’S THAT SIMPLE! THAT’S WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT! It would take some time to get the page to fit with the Polymer format, but in terms of functionality, we could get it done in a day! Neither I nor Duudl3 has a college degree!

Then comes Content ID. Come on YouTube, your parent company is Google. It should not be hard to get a team of human beings on board to work on appeals. Instead, you place the job of judging the merits of an appeal to the company whose interest is in keeping the content claimed. If someone claims a video, all the ad money goes to the one who placed the claim, with no way for the original creator to recoup that money.

This. Is. Wrong.

Then came adpocalypse. Because some advertisers decided to boycott you (something they’d have to eventually quit doing), you decided to place a bunch of YouTubers on a blacklist, meaning they get $0 from ads. They deny this blacklist, but the evidence is there.

You guys, you are capable of making really good products. You made 3 really good products that anyone can use, not to mention YouTube Premium actually has some merit to it. Why do you refuse to make your main product into a quality product, for both viewers and creators alike?

The answer is actually pretty simple…

Why would you? Where would the creators go? All the eyes are on YouTube. There is no competition.

Now let’s look at the good products:

  • YouTube Kids, of course it has to be good for parents to be willing to install it…
  • YouTube Music has to compete with Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, etc.
  • YouTube TV has Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, Hulu with Live TV, etc.
  • YouTube Gaming was created to compete directly with Twitch

But YouTube has nothing. Dailymotion? Nah. Vimeo? Nah. Bittube? Nope. There is no viable competitor to YouTube, and it’s for a simple reason: All the creators are on YouTube, and all the eyes are on YouTube.

But if this downward spiral continues, eventually you will see the creators boycott the platform. When this happens, the viewers will start to leave after noting there’s nothing good on there anymore. Then something will replace your platform.

How do I know this is possible? Simple: This is exactly what happened to MySpace, and exactly what happened to Internet Explorer. People stopped using these products after they became terrible, when much better options came on to the scene, and now they are the laughing stock of the internet. Microsoft even tried to remedy this with Microsoft Edge, and it didn’t work.

Don’t think it can’t happen, YouTube. It already has.


Marco Salin